DENVER — Andre Miller looked past the throng of reporters and fixed his eyes on the big screen.
The Denver Nuggets point guard answered questions as he watched Houston and Phoenix battle in a game that had lots of meaning to his team.
Miller handled both tasks well, which isn’t surprising. He’s been doing everything on the court — and doing it well.
Miller followed up Friday’s 22-point, 15-assist game with a 14-point, 17-assist one in Saturday’s 121-105 rout of the Seattle SuperSonics. On a team that has won 21 of its last 23 and everyone is playing well, Miller is standing out.
“Right now he’s playing unbelievable basketball,” guard Earl Boykins said.
“He’s doing a great job of creating opportunities for us, but he’s also being aggressive. When you’re aggressive, teams tend to over-help, and that makes things a lot easier.”
The Nuggets have almost every aspect of their game down. They are shooting lights out, they’re putting teams away early and
they’re getting everyone involved. Six players were in double figures against the Sonics, led by Carmelo Anthony’s 24 points and Boykins’ 23.
“Everybody has stepped up as far as defensively, and offensively I’ve been making plays, getting into the paint and kicking out and guys are going up to the rim and catching the lob,” Miller said. “It makes things easier.”
Denver made its life easier with its recent seven-game winning streak. With the Minnesota Timberwolves’ loss at Atlanta on Saturday and their victory over
Seat-tle, the Nuggets reduced their magic number for clinching a playoff spot to one. Any combination of a Minnesota loss or a Denver win and the Nuggets are in the postseason party for the second straight year.
“I just think it puts more pressure on our scouting people to get ready for the playoffs,” head coach George Karl said.
Whomever the Nuggets play in the playoffs, the opposing scouting staff will have work to do. Denver is playing confident basketball and beating good teams.
Saturday’s victim could be the postseason foe. The Nuggets (45-31) are a half-game behind Houston, which squeaked out a win in Phoenix on Saturday night, for the sixth spot in the Western Conference. The Sonics are 50-26, and a game from clinching the Midwest Division, which would give them the third seed.
The playoffs would give the Nuggets a different Seattle team than they saw Saturday. The injury-depleted Sonics dressed only nine players, and rookie Damien Wilkins started his first game of the year. Ray Allen led the way with 32 points, but it wasn’t nearly enough against the surging Nuggets.
“We’re kind of used to the winning,” Miller said. “We’ve been playing well since the All-Star break. Everybody’s been playing well.”
Even when the Nuggets slip a little, they are able to survive. They led by as many as 23 in the first half Saturday, but Seattle cut it to nine on a couple of occasions. It didn’t faze Denver.
“We’re not going to let down,” Anthony said. “We’re going to fight when teams make their runs. We just keep our composure and keep playing the way we’ve been playing.”
They’re playing so well that Karl thinks the Nuggets can win five of their last six.
“A 50-win season would be an incredible season,” he said. “And it’s feasible.
“We’re going to have to win all our home games, and then win one of the road games. Those won’t be easy.”
Lately, they’ve made it look very easy.
Notes: Eduardo Najera sat out Saturday’s game with the flu. He’s probable for Monday’s game against Golden State. … Denver’s 45 wins are the most by the organization since 1987-88. The Nuggets started 45-26 that year and finished 54-28. … Anthony has led the Nuggets in scoring in 39 of the 76 games.