Playoff intensity took about a quarter to kick in.
Better late than never.
The Nuggets found their form in the second quarter and kept the pedal to the metal, using 30 big points from Arron Afflalo to stave off Phoenix 105-99 tonight at the Pepsi Center on Friday.
It was an important victory, creating space between the Nuggets and Suns, who were just a game behind for the last playoff spot going into the contest.
The Nuggets ended the game on a 13-2 run to notch their third victory in the last four games.
Should the Nuggets secure a playoff spot in the next 11 games, it doesn't figure to be easy. The Nuggets generally haven't made things easy on themselves all season long. But, many times they have come through when they've needed to and Friday fell in line with that concept.
"I think this year our wins and losses have fell more on us," Afflalo said. "There's been occasions where the opponent played extremely well and we just got out played, but I think us controlling our own destiny has been our storyline."
The Nuggets used a late charge in the fourth to get the victory.
Down 99-98 with 1:23 left, Andre Miller made two free throws to put the Nuggets on top. Then, Afflalo nailed a 3-pointer to put the Nuggets up 103-99 with 48 seconds left. They tacked on two free throws to provide the winning margin.
It was the finish the Nuggets needed.