The Denver Nuggets got off to a cold start against the New Orleans Pelicans tonight, and you could feel Nuggets Nation tensing up as a whole, as that's usually the harbinger of bad things to come this season. But...
As hinted above, Denver slipped to an early 14-2 disadvantage, and the air was coming out of the room. Brian Shaw got a quick time out, got vocal with the team, and the Nuggets came back on the court with a different energy. The Nuggets went on a 16-4 run to tie the game at 18, and never looked back. From the point of that timeout, starters and bench both appeared to have better focus, particularly on the defensive end of the floor, and the tide started to turn for the Nuggets. Denver climbed steadily through the quarter to wrap it up ahead of the Pelicans 31-26.
Contrary to my "keys to the game" preview, the starters not only held their own, but put some distance on the Pellie's first five. Kenneth Faried held his own against Anthony Davis, and Ty Lawson and Arron Afflalo were having their way with the New Orleans backcourt. The Nuggets stretched their lead by another 5 points, and went into the locker room up 59-49
Denver continued to pressure the Pelicans ball handlers, and good things continued to happen on the defensive end. You knew things were going the Nuggets way when Anthony Davis blocked Faried's shot down low, Faried corralled the shot out in the corner as the shot clock was expiring, turned, and hit his first career three-pointer. By the end of the frame, Denver had outscored the Pelicans yet again by three, and found themselves up 86-73. Winners of three quarters in a row, all the Nuggets had to do was bring it home.
Two minutes into the fourth quarter, it appeared the air went out of the Pelicans sails, and JaVale McGee decided it was time to take advantage. JaVale had 12 of his 14 points in the fourth, and finished with seven boards and two blocks in his 19 minutes. With 4:45 left in the game, the Nuggets crossed the "Taco Bar" and cleared the 110 point mark on a Randy Foye three. Not long after, both teams pulled their starters from the floor, and it was apparent the Pelicans were conceding the night. Denver played out the frame to keep New Orleans off the century mark, and even succeeded there, outscoring the Pelicans 31-24 in the quarter, and wrapping the game up at