Several Denver Nuggets players were stranded on the highway for about a half hour Sunday when the team bus broke down on the way to Staples Center for a playoff opener against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The bus left the team's hotel about 2 1/2 hours before tipoff as scheduled, but experienced problems about 15 minutes into the trip, club spokesman Eric Sebastian said. Players and staff had to wait on the Santa Monica Freeway.
''There was a pop, black smoke, there was another pop, more black smoke,'' Sebastian said. ''We rushed off the bus. We were standing on the side of the road.''
The Nuggets' second bus, which left the team hotel about 30 minutes after the first one, stopped to pick up their teammates. The entire team made the rest of the trip to the arena, arriving about 90 minutes before game-time.
''It was a good bonding experience,'' Sebastian said with a smile.
Rookie guard Taurean Green was on the first bus.
''It wasn't scary; it was just a little frustrating,'' he said. ''All we could do is stand around. You don't want to start off the first series being delayed to the arena.''
Nuggets coach George Karl was on the second bus. When told what happened, his response was: ''Go pick 'em up.''
''It was fine,'' he added. ''It was a little pressure relief laugh a little bit.''