Tag Archives: New Orleans Pelicans

Denver Nuggets Pull Out Road Victory in New Orleans

Denver Nuggets came out flat in the first fall down by as many as 10-points. Then fight back to take a tough road win 113-108 over New Orleans.

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The first frame saw the Denver Nuggets continue a worrying trend of slow starts. You can’t continuously fall behind by double-digits and expect to win consistently. That’s exactly what happened against New Orleans, again. They fell behind by as many as 10-points, before scratching back to tie it at 26-all. Only to see the shot selection get abysmal with Jokic on the bench and falling to a 33-26 deficit by the end of the quarter.

After a 30-point performance on Sunday, Zion Williamson had 15 in the first quarter alone. The Big-Three of Denver did their best to keep pace with Jokic throwing in 6, Murray 7, and MPJ 7. No other Nugget had more than 3. And for the second-straight game, the Nuggets shot was lost for 3-quarters. This was the 3rd best 3-point shooting team in the league on Monday. Come Friday and they had slipped all the way to 6th (38.4). While their opponents are shooting out of their minds. You saw Toronto jack 24 made 3’s on Wednesday. And New Orleans who was 21st in the league coming in at 35.4 percent shooting 50% in the first quarter from deep.

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The 2nd quarter had the Nuggets slip as far as 14-points behind as the insane 3-point shooting for New Orleans continued. They ended the first half 9-17 from behind the arc. But the biggest disparity was the fact that Denver had a total of 3 free-throws in the first half. Zion had 4 times that much alone.

I know a lot of Nuggets fans will point to the fact Malone had to challenge an obvious charge that was initially ruled a defensive foul when Zion drove on Milsap. Or the horrible no-call on an obvious foul when MPJ should have had a dunk and the defender got absolutely no ball, just straight hand/arm and throwing Porter hard to the floor. And will make the assumption it was simply biased officiating for the home team. I counter this with my multiple assessments of how “soft” the Nuggets tend to play. Nobody wants to see them go Artest on the court, but some Metta wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

The 3rd quarter saw a 63-54 halftime deficit grow to as much as 14-points before the Nuggets went on a 26-9 run at the end of the 3rd to build a 5-point lead. Then their shots dried up, again, and allowed Zion and company to rebuild a 4-point lead before the end of the quarter. Denver played great on the boards as they did not allow a single second-chance point until 3 mins. to go in the 3rd. Denver actually outscored New Orleans 31-23 in the frame. They had 3 players within 2 points of 20, and 2 over that number. But were outscored 14-4 when it came to bench points.

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This team will not win with MPJ/Murray/Jokic alone. And their lack of aggression on the offensive side is going to doom them. They sorely need the energy on defense and offensive paint that Gordon will bring. Unfortunately, they were not ready yet.

The 4th quarter had New Orleans start with an 18-4 run, growing the lead again. Then at 6:15 to go with the score 100-96 Pelicans up, The Nuggets started their own run, 22-8 when all was said and done, with a renewed fervor on defense. The turning point for me was when Murray picked the pocket of Zion at that 6:15 mark, took it to the rim, flushed the dunk, and got the foul. This gave Denver the energy they needed to make 1 final push. After building a 3-point lead with 1:03 to go. At this point, Jokic had 37, Murray 23, and MPJ chipped in 25. More importantly, though, Milsap hit another gear and had 16 pts/6 rebs./3 assists.

Here is that steal with the And 1 from Murray courtesy of the Denver Nuggets Social Team:

The Pelicans had a golden opportunity with about 40 seconds left to tie it at 111 when Brandon Ingram bricked a wide-open three. Zion played well enough to win with a 39 pt/10 assist double-double. No other Pelican scored more than 16, so Denver did well on everyone else, you can only do so much when guys are making shots they never make. But regression to the mean is a thing, and that’s exactly what happened in the second half of this game showed it. After starting 9-17 from deep, New Orleans ended 12-24. One concerning stat that did though was a disparity in free-throws. New Orleans put up 20, while Denver only attempted 7. If you are a team viewed as one that doesn’t go hard in the paint by Refs. You will not get those calls, Zion and the bunch live in the paint. When one team has physicality on tape, and the other doesn’t. Fouls tend to favor the more aggressive team.

Thankfully for Denver Nuggets fans this wasn’t a death knell as it usually is. Since Jamal went for a 23 pt/11 assist double-double. Jokic added 37 pts, while Porter Jr. put up 25 of his own, with Milsaps aforementioned 16 were enough to scratch out a tough road win. Maybe it was deadline lag, maybe it was another off night. No matter the cause, Denver will not get the same lucky bounces, lack of finishers, or gap in roster talent against the Hawks or 76ers, their next 2 opponents, that they got against a very young Pelican squads. Let’s hope an off day Saturday gets them an opportunity to fine tune things with the new guys. And come out firing on Sunday against Atlanta.

Up Next:

@Atlanta Hawks, Sunday, March 28 at 7:00 PM MST

Where to watch:

Denver Market: Altitude TV

Atlanta Market: Fox Sports South

National Broadcast: NBATV

Denver Nuggets Can’t Closeout Pelicans

The Denver Nuggets came in on a 3 game winning streak and hit the road with a sour taste from some cajun cooking by the New Orleans Pelicans falling 113-108.

The Denver Nuggets had to be feeling good about themselves after their overtime stunner against the Bulls on Friday night. When Jamal Murray hit the smoothest last second three we ever did see. But unfortunately for the home team, they have to fly cross-country to Orlando with a sick feeling as if they ate bad gumbo.

The Pelicans on the other hand get a bit of a statement win against one of the best teams in the Association. The Nuggets came in and left as the leagues 3rd best FG shooters (48.8%), 4th best 3pt shooters (38.9%), 4th best in PPG (116), and the West’s 6th best record (25-17). The Pelicans are no push over, especially in the paint where they lead the league in points scored. They are 4th in FG % (48.5, just behind Denver), and 5th in PPG (115, again, just behind Denver).

The Nuggets lack of discipline on defense. And no effort on the offensive glass outside of Isaiah Hartenstein in the 4th quarter. That all lead to 28 free throws for New Orleans, to just 10 for Denver. It also lead to Paul Millsap fouling out in the final minutes. Steven Adams ending up with 13 total rebounds, of those, 7 were on offense. Three Pelican starters scored 20+(Williamson, Ingram, and Alexander-Walker). The Pelicans also had 7 blocked shots by 5 different players. To the 5 blocks by 3 players on Denver’s side (Hartenstein had 3 of those blocks alone). But even with all this positive, the only starter for New Orleans that finished with a positive +/- was Brandon Ingram at +3. This was due to the 16 turnovers Denver forced which kept this from being a blowout.

DURHAM, NC - NOVEMBER 14: Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson (1) goes for the dunk during the 1st half of the Duke Blue Devils game versus the Eastern Michigan Eagles on November 14, 2018, at Cameron Indoor Stadium (Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Zion Williamson is flourishing before our eyes (30 pts, 6 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block). The 2-man game they employ with him and Ingram (30 pts, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals, 1 block) is proving deadly. This team is still a few peaces from truly contending for a title. But they have a solid foundation, and are starting to see fruits from that Anthony Davis seed they planted.

Kira Lewis Jr., the rookie from Alabama, showed some flashes tonight. With the second best +/- for New Orleans at +11 with 6 points and 1 steal on 3-6 shooting. The stats aren’t going to blow you away, but his shot over Joker in the 3rd should. This kid looks like he deserves more time on the floor, he’s a little undersized, but showed no fear of going in the paint. Look for this kid to make more noise around the league when this team starts winning.

It’s not as if the Denver Nuggets 2-man game wasn’t working. As you can see below courtesy of the Denver Nuggets Social Team:

The Joker and Blue Arrow put on their capes. As Joker had yet another triple-double and Jamal was almost 60% from the field. The rub lies with the bench where the Nuggets got only 17 total pts and 9 rebounds. Not a single bench player for Denver had a positive +/-. While the entire Pelicans bench had nothing less than a +8. The Pelicans received 23 total pts, 15 total rebounds, 11 total assists, and 3 steals from there’s.

Poor bench performance, low number of free throws taken vs high number given up. And neither Murray or Jokic truly taking over the game doomed Denver in the 4th. The Nuggets lead by as much as 9 points in the 1st quarter, but after dropping behind by 7 at the half. They never lead again by more than 4. Then once Zion and company smelled blood in the water with less than 2 minutes to go, they pulled away.

Unlike Friday when there seemed to be a calm about Jokic and Murray during the storm of a comeback. The Sunday matinee was the complete opposite as with less than a minute to go, both Murray and Jokic had a shot at wide open 3’s to get the Denver Nuggets within 1, on the same possession, and both fell short. This was the moment I knew history would not repeat itself and the Nuggets had simply run out of gas. Here’s to hoping a long flight cross-country will clear their minds and leave them with some fresh energy in the first night of a back to back in Orlando then Toronto.

Notes:

The Nuggets play next on Tuesday night March 23 at 5:00 PM MST

How to watch/listen:

Denver Market: Altitude TV and Altitude Sports Radio 92.5

Orlando Market: Fox Sports Florida