These two teams played just three-days ago down in New Orleans; where the Nuggets rallied late to pull off a 96-88 win. The Hornets, or Bugs as I like to call them, are struggling this season with their new pieces, and to complicate matters - Eric Gordon is out with a knee injury. Hopefully the Nuggets can follow the Broncos lead and get a nice win tonight.
The particulars ...
Denver: 6-3 (4-0 at home)
Streak: Lost 1
New Orleans: 2-6 (1-3 on the road)
Streak: Lost 6
Denver: Nene (bruised left heel) is day-to-day.
New Orleans: Eric Gordon (bruised right knee) and DaJuan Summers (knee) are both out. Trevor Ariza (groin strain) and Xavier Henry (ankle) are both day-to-day.
Television: Altitude TV
Season Series: 1-0, Nuggets.
Opposition's Take: At the Hive
Nate's 8 keys to the game:
- Step on the Bugs early!
Denver was down Jan. 6th to the Hornets after the first quarter 32-24. At the half it was 47-41, advantage NOLA. And at the end of the third quarter it was 63-62, Hornets. Denver used an 11-0 run to open the fourth quarter to distance themselves from New Orleans and run away with the game.
You never want to see a close game late with a bad team and the Bugs are a bad team. After starting 2-0, Jarrett Jack and Company have gone 0-6 and appear to be a lottery team. The Nuggets need to treat NOLA like a lottery team and put this one out of reach early. The Pepsi Center crowd should be treated to some Kenneth Faried court-time ... aka a blowout needs to happen.
- Don't be a doofus, play Kosta Koufos!
The Hornets start a pair of twin towers in Chris Kaman and Emeka Okafor; off the bench are big men Carl Landry and Jason Smith. Denver will need to control the boards and if Nene is able to play tonight, then Koufos, just 22 years-old, should be the first big man off the bench. Chris Andersen is good for 10-15 minutes a night, but Koufos has shown that he's ready for more minutes. I like K2's rebounding, defensive length, and he has some nice post moves. Follow my rhyme.
- Be careful from downtown.
At home the Nuggets are shooting just 15-65 from downtown, good for only 23% from three-point land on the season. Against the Jazz they shot 6-19 (31.6%), versus the Lakers 2-18 (11.1%), against the Bucks 4-19 (21.1%), and the Kings 3-9 (33.3%). I don't know what to say about the three-point shooting other than: keep taking the shots when you are open. Too often we've seen off-balanced and shot taken from too deep. Be smart from downtown and takes the shots when you're open and squared up to shoot. Need more games like the one against the Spurs where Denver shot 8-16 and less like the game in NOLA where Denver was 5-21 from long range.
- Mr. ABA is ready.
Corey Brewer looks like a guy who jumped out of a time machine from 1973. His tall and wiry frame, his semi-balding hair, the headband, the awkward facial hair all add up to make me think of the ABA when he's out on the floor. He plays at a break-neck pace and is always hustling. I'm loving what Brewer can bring to this team and think he should start eating into Rudy Fernandez's minutes.
Mr. Brewer, did you come to Denver in a time machine?
While Brewer doesn't look like Tiny Archibald, he
does look like he's from Archibald's era.
- "We want Tacos!"
Check out this stat from Denver Nuggets Public Relations Manager Nick O'Hayre:
"Denver is now 65-2 (.970) when scoring 110+ points at home since the start of the 2008-09 season. Pretty good percentage"
- Monitor Nene's minutes if he plays
The Nuggets need to get a big lead early, protect it, and save Nene (if he plays). Nobody wants to see Nene going in-and-out of the lineup. He's listed as starting tonight: here. And if he does play, I would rather see him play 20-25 minutes -- meaning he'll get some rest and the Nuggets will hopefully be up big.
- Work the ball inside to Mozgov
Timofey Mozgov has looked pretty good when he actually gets the ball around the hoop on the offensive end. Against the Spurs he made both shots he took and showed nice touch on both attempts. Mozgov is rarely rewarded when he runs the court on a fastbreak and he's rarely rewarded when he gets post position. It's obvious his teammates don't feel comfortable passing him the ball and I'm not sure why. Denver needs to work the ball into the post and it'd be nice to see Mozgov get some looks against Okafor and Kaman.
- Defense will turn into offense
The Nuggets made their mad-dash comeback against the Spurs because they started flying around the ball on defense and that led to fastbreak and aggressive offense. The quickest way to get a team on their heels in Denver is to run them into the ground. These Nuggets have shown an ability to create turnovers and tonight should be no different. The Hornets had 17 turnovers and the Nuggets had 8 steals in the first match-up and the Nuggets need to replicate those numbers tonight.
Those are the keys to tonight's game. I have a good feeling that the Nuggets will follow in the Broncos footsteps and get a nice win tonight. Maybe Demaryius Thomas will be in attendance tonight at the Pepsi Center and if he is - he should get what the Nuggets should get at the end of this game: a standing ovation.
Nate_Timmons on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/Nate_Timmons