Nuggets’ coach: ”I Trust My Team’ |

Nuggets’ coach: ”I Trust My Team’

Benjamin Hochman
The Denver Post

NEW ORLEANS ” Tonight’s game is sort of big.

If the Nuggets win Game 4, they’ll head back to snowy Denver up 3-1 and if they lose, man, it’s a 2-2 series with the Nuggets on a two-game losing streak.

Such is life in the playoffs, but at today’s shootaround, coach George Karl sensed confidence from his troops – “I trust my team,” he said at New Orleans Arena.

“If we play with energy and intensity of Games 1 and 2, we don’t have to change…the mental game of playoff basketball is always the thing a coach never knows – it’s the challenge of our character, challenge of our pride, to see if we want to be big-time or not.”

Karl brought up a number of points heading into tonight’s Game 4 (6:30 p.m. Mountain):

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The Nuggets must be quicker and sharper with their transition defense. “I thought (the Hornets) made a very concerted effort to run more, push the ball more, and play against our transition defense rather than our five-on-five defense,” Karl said.

Karl expects New Orleans point guard Chris Paul to play in the “mid-40s” minute range for the rest of the series.

Nuggets reserve center Chris Andersen, his coach said, “should be very proud” because it seems that he’s on the Hornets’ priority list, not bad for a seventh man off the bench.

“There’s not many 7-8 men on the defense plan – they’re working very hard to keep him off the boards,” Karl said. “Some of their rotations to force me maybe to play smaller than I want to play all the time, but Chris will have a similar opportunity he’s had all along. We’re not going to change anything up.”

And so, Karl said he likely won’t expand the rotation tonight, meaning Johan Petro and Renaldo Balkman likely won’t play.

Film sessions have been longer in the postseason than the regular season, Karl said, “and a lot of it is because you’re listening to what they’re thinking and feeling. And I would say Chauncey (Billups), Kenyon (Martin) and Carmelo (Anthony) are the leaders of that.”

Benjamin Hochman: 303-954-1294 or

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