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Preview: Hornets come to Denver to take on the Nuggets

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The Nuggets look to kick off an eight-game homestand with a win against Charlotte

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Something's got to give.  The Denver Nuggets have not been able to stop the bleeding over the last month, losing ten of their last 12 games. The Charlotte Hornets come in on a six-game losing streak, none of them closer than 9-point affairs, including a blowout yesterday to the Clippers. One of these teams will have to reverse their recent fortunes on Sunday.

The Nuggets have almost everyone available that can be, as they are waiting on Emmanuel Mudiay to feel comfortable getting back on the court in live game action.  Danilo Gallinari has scored 20+ points in his last four games since returning from his own ankle injury, and Kenneth Faried should be back in action as well after missing Denver's loss to the Memphis Grizzlies due to the birth of his second child.

Charlotte could still be missing Nic Batum, which shortens the rotation and takes away a significant scoring punch.  Jeremy Lin scored 26 against the Clippers but only two other Hornets reached double-figures, which could be a problem for them if Denver can remember how to put the ball in the basket.  The Nuggets have scored 78 and 84 points respectively in their last two games.

The Basics

Who: Charlotte Hornets (17-19) at Denver Nuggets (13-24)
When: 6:00 PM MT
Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, CO
Where to watch: Altitude
Enemy Blog:
At The Hive

Charlotte Hornets
Denver Nuggets Advantage
PG Kemba Walker Jameer Nelson Charlotte
SG Jeremy Lin Gary Harris Charlotte
SF P.J. Hairston Danilo Gallinari Nuggets
PF Marvin Williams Kenneth Faried Nuggets
C Cody Zeller Jusuf Nurkic Nuggets
Bench Spencer Hawes, Frank Kaminsky,
Brian Roberts, Jeremy LambTyler Hansbrough
Joffrey LauvergneDarrell Arthur,
Will BartonNikola JokicRandy Foye
Even

Injuries: Wilson Chandler, hip (out), Emmanuel Mudiay, ankle (who knows), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, shoulder (out), Al Jefferson, knee (out), Nicolas Batum, toe (questionable)

Three things to watch:

Can the Nuggets avoid a dead quarter?

2nd quarter against Memphis: 7 points

4th quarter against Minnesota: 12 points

1st quarter agains Golden State: 13 points

The Nuggets have this habit of faceplanting on the court for 9 or 10 straight minutes at some point during the ballgame, and that streak tends to cause them to lose the game.  Thankfully Minnesota out-faceplanted Denver to let the Nuggets take home a rare recent victory, but that sort of gift cannot be expected.  The Nuggets have to find a way to move the ball and make open looks - or at least get to the free throw line - when things start to stagnate, otherwise the Hornets will make our current 5-11 home record worse.

Is it possible to defend the three-point line? The Nuggets have the worst opponents' 3-point percentage allowed in the league. Charlotte shoots the 5th-most threes, even if they only make them at the 18th-best rate.  The Hornets will take shots beyond the arc if they are there, and even if they aren't.  This Nuggets team allowed the Grizzlies - not exactly a team of sharp-shooters - to shoot 44% from distance.  If they do that in this game Charlotte will be flying home with the W.

Can the non-Gallo scorers step up? Will Barton played 50 minutes against the Golden State Warriors on January 2nd.  In the three games since he has 18 total points and is shooting 26% from the field, and needs to find his legs again.  Jameer Nelson has 6 total points in the last two games as the heavy minutes he's logging in Mudiay's absence seem to be catching up with him.  Randy Foye has scored 10 points in his last 83 minutes on the court.  Gallinari is Denver's best player, but the Nuggets cannot win if he is their only scoring threat.  Whether it's the bigs inside or the wings and backcourt chuckers, some non-Italian has to also put the ball in the hoop for Denver.  Another 20+ point effort from Gallo would be nice too.

Prediction: the Nuggets start off their homestand with a victory, 101-92.