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  • A pair of star players and friends will have an opportunity to demonstrate their value to their new teams in an intriguing matchup Wednesday, as defensive stalwart Andre Iguodala squares off against reigning Western Conference Player of the Week, James Harden. “It’s definitely a test for us as a group, not just Andre individually,” Denver coach George Karl said. “[Harden's] points in transition, the easy points at the free-throw line, that’s what we have to control. In 5-on-5 situations, I think we have a good idea of where we need to go.”
  • Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler will miss Wednesday’s game as part of the Denver (1-3) training staff’s temporary plan to rest the 6-foot-8 forward on one leg of back-to-back sets. Chandler, who is gradually recovering from offseason left hip surgery, said he is optimistic that his hip will be well enough for him to fully participate in back-to-backs before the end of 2012.
  • Houston (2-1) has squandered sizeable offensive-rebounding advantages in each of its last two games thanks to a poor second-chance shot percentage. The Rockets have gone 10-for-33 (30.3 percent) on second-shot opportunities during this stretch, a statistic that has caught Kevin McHale’s attention as they enter a matchup with Denver’s tenacious frontcourt. “Get more [offensive rebounds and second-chance points]. That’s the key,” McHale said. “We’re going to have to really go hard. When [the Nuggets win] … they just kind of grind you. For us, it’s going to be a pretty simple formula.”
  • Houston reserve center Greg Smith will return to the rotation after missing the previous two games with a sore left foot. With Smith available again, McHale said he and Cole Aldrich will share playing time behind starter Omer Asik. McHale did not rule out the possibility that both backup big men could be a part of the same lineup for brief stints.

Matt Miller

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