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Recap: New Orleans Pelicans outrace Denver Nuggets

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Your Denver Nuggets forget what a defense looks like on the way to a high-scoring loss.

Even sick and seated for long swaths, Anthony Davis put up 27 on the Nuggets tonight
Even sick and seated for long swaths, Anthony Davis put up 27 on the Nuggets tonight
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets look loose for tonight's game against the New Orleans Pelicans, having a little fun in warmups with a "punching bag".

First Quarter

The Nuggets come out of the gates looking tentative to drive to the basket, and miss their first outside jumpers to start the game. Joffrey Lauvergne makes a corner three to finally get a shot to fall for Denver three minutes into the contest. By four minutes in, New Orleans has hit another jumper to make the score 16-7. Michael Malone calls a quick timeout to reset the team's play (hopefully).

Quickly, Kenneth Faried and Lauvergne are driving to the rim, with free throws for Faried, and dunk for Joffrey  getting the Nuggets closer to the Pelicans. Malone starts making substitutions halfway through the quarter, bringing Nikola Jokic and Darrell Arthur in to spell the frontcourt. By the four-minute mark, New Orleans stud Anthony David has 13 of the Pels 26 points, and the NOLA frontcourt is whupping the Denver frontcourt badly.

Fortunately, Danilo Gallinari is pressing the issue with whichever defender is on him, and spends a fair bit of the first quarter at the foul line, keeping the Nuggets within spitting distance, and hopefully causing New Orleans foul troubles later in the contest. Nearing the three-minute mark, Randy Foye and Will Barton come into the game, and Foye quickly drops two good-looking threes in, pulling Denver back within two. Now that the Nuggets are looking to get under the basket, inside and outside both are opening up more for scoring.

Anthony Davis is having a career quarter, scoring 19 points in the frame. With Gallo's 11 free throws, Denver finds itself down by five, 36-31.

Second Quarter

Foye and Barton have quick scores to start the quarter and finally bring things back to even. Suddenly Foye, Barton, and Jameer Nelson all heat up from outside the arc, and three minutes into the quarter the Nuggets are up by a pair, 46-44.

The book seems to be out on the Nuggets that if you make things tougher on the offensive end, they'll back off, as New Orleans starts to clog the lanes and re-takes the lead. Malone brings Faried back into the game to lend some energy down low, and Denver pulls back into the lead off a three by Gallo. That brings Gallo's point total to 14 after his first make of the game... a funny stat to see.

A ferocious put back dunk by Faried on a Barton double miss is the Nuggets play of the first half at the five-minute lark, though Barton has a beautiful slam of his own 75 second later. An and one on the Barton slam has the Nuggets up by six, their largest lead of the game. Neither team seems particularly interested in playing much defense, and scoring is plentiful for both squads. Some big offensive numbers across the board for the squad, as Denver goes into the half up on the Pelicans, 74-67. That's been out game output a couple of times, and the Nuggets should at least hit that magical 100-point mark which has been their Mason-Dixon this season.

Third Quarter

Anthony Davis has an unspecified illness, and does not join the Pelicans back on the floor to start the second half. Since Davis was 19 of the Pels 67 points, he'll be missed by the opposition if he cannot rejoin, and the Nuggets will need to put further pressure on as they are able.

A lot of back-and-forth in the first four minutes, with nothing outstanding by either squad, until Gallinari drives the basket, and accidentally rolls his ankle when backing out of the key, stepping on Ryan Anderson's foot. The Nuggets have to call a time out to get Gallo hobbling to the bench. Not good news for the Nuggets, let's hope it's nothing serious.

Suddenly, halfway through Q3, Denver is moving slowly to the ball, with turnovers on the offensive end, and layups given freely to the Pelicans on the defensive end. Malone calls a timeout to staunch the bleeding when the Nuggets give the lead back to New Orleans, 83-82.

Suddenly, the jump shots from the perimeter are also not falling, and Denver has lost their way back under the hoop. By the  three-minute mark, the Pelicans have gone on a 14-0 run, with the Nuggets missing nine shots in a row. Foye re-enters the contest and drains two more threes, which pulls Denver back within three.

Let's hope hot first halves followed by second half meltdowns are not the story of BOTH of Denver's pro teams playing today. End of the third quarter, Pelicans lead 99-96.

Fourth Quarter

Denver comes back out with energy and hot shooting, sharing the scoring load amongst the backcourt. Darrell Arthur is sitting the rest of the night to start the fourth quarter with knee soreness, further limiting Denver's options, and Anthony Davis rejoins the Pelicans on the floor at the eight-minute mark, right as a Barton three puts the Nuggets up 109-104.

Another three for Barton at the six minute mark gives him a career high in scoring, with 28 points, and you wonder if Denver won't lean on the hot shooting of he and Randy Foye the rest of the contest. Yes, that scares me too.

At the 4:30 mark, Denver lets another easy layup through, with the Pelicans re-knotting the game at 114. Another miss and Pels bucket gets a quick timeout from Malone, and Denver had 4 minutes to pull this game out.

Out of the timeout, Barton brings his total to a first-time-in-his-career dipsy doodle layup that gets him to an even 30, tying the game. Altitude announces that Gallo is out for the evening, and hopefully not for longer.

Davis' presence starts to make a difference again down low with four blocks in the fourth quarter, and Denver looks to be lagging in a horse race. A pair of free throws by the ‘Brow makes it 123-116 with 90 seconds left in the game. Denver puts up a bucket, but misses on both ends force the Nuggets to start fouling with 36 seconds left in the game.

Sadly, no miracles occur during that last half minute, and the Nuggets learn that getting their offense uncorked is not a license to forget their defense entirely. An offense intensive night mixed with an offensive defense by the Nuggets make for a 130-125 loss.

A frustrating day for Denver sports faithful, Nuggets Nation. What did you see in tonight's game?