The Denver Nuggets took on the New Orleans Pelicans on Christmas night after a long day of games. After a couple of early misses, the teams traded a pair of quick turnovers, both of which involved Gary Harris. After another Denver miss, Brandon Ingram got into the mid range for an easy bucket. Nikola Jokic, on the other end of the floor, got inside to draw a foul that allowed him to get Denver’s first point on the night.
Off of the missed free throw, Denver got the ball, but they turned it over which led to a bucket from Jrue Holiday on the other end to put them up 4-1. After a Jokic miss, New Orleans responded with a jumper from JJ Redick to put them up 6-1. Jokic threw an ill-advised pass that resulted in a turnover, a transition foul and a timeout for the Nuggets down 6-1.
Out of the timeout, the Pelicans nailed a 3-point shot to go up by eight. Denver got their first basket to fall with a 3-point shot by Harris in the corner. Following a timeout by New Orlenas, Harris got a steal that he was able to convert into a big dunk. However, the Nuggets didn’t get back in transition, and they gave up an easy bucket to Holiday. With less than five minutes off the clock, Denver had committed five turnovers.
Luckily for them, the Pelicans had racked up four in the same stretch. Down 11-6, Jokic got to the basket for a hook to bring them within three, and, after forcing another turnover, Harris nailed a 3-point shot to tie the game at 11 with a little under seven minutes remaining in the quarter. The team traded misses before Ingram knocked down a deep two for his third bucket on the night. On their next possession, following a Nuggets turnover, Ingram drew a foul on Murray that got him to the line.
He got them both to fall, and, off of an awkward Jerami Grant miss, Josh Hart pushed right to the basket for a layup. After Jokic drew a foul, the Nuggets were able to get Grant an easy bucket at the rim, and they followed it up with a transition 3-point make after a Lonzo Ball turnover. New Orleans pushed the ball in transition to draw a foul at the rim to go up by three, but Denver continued to pound the ball into the paint with Jokic, as the Pelicans had no clear match for his size early on.
After a pair of Jokic free throws, the Pelicans got a basket to fall that put them up by three with four minutes remaining. Off of a Michael Porter Jr. miss, Ingram drove to the basket easily for two. After a bad miss by Ball, Jamal Murray got a free-throw line jumper to fall that put the team down 23-22 and forced a timeout out of the Pelicans. Following misses out of the timeout, Will Barton took a steal to the other end that gave the team a lead before a 3-point shot wiped it out.
With one minute remaining, the two sides were trading buckets, and the Pelicans were up 29-26. With 24 seconds remaining, Denver forced a turnover out of Jahlil Okafor that gave them the chance to get the last shot. Barton hit a crossover that made his man fall, but he was unable to get the shot to fall, and they went into the second quarter trailing by three 29-26.
To start the second quarter, the two sides traded buckets to keep the lead at three. After multiple misses by each team, Holiday went into the paint to get himself another basket before Monte Morris got a shot to fall. Barton was able to draw a foul, but he was only able to get one of the foul shots to fall. The Nuggets offense started to grow stagnant, and the Pelicans stretched their lead to seven before Malone called a timeout.
Out of the timeout, Denver didn’t get an immediate bucket, but they did force a turnover which led to a 3-point make and cut the deficit to four. The Pelicans offense was struggling mightily with turnovers, but they were playing at such a high pace that it gave them more bites at the apple. Grant was giving the Nuggets a big boost on offense with multiple baskets that cut their deficit to three points when the starters re-entered the game.
Upon that re-entry, Millsap got an offensive rebound that he passed out to Malik Beasley to tie the game. However, Ingram nailed a 3-pointer of his own on the other end to regain that lead. After a miss by Ingram, Beasley nailed his third 3-point shot on the night to put the team up 45-43. Off of an inbounds pass, Harris drove to the basket for an acrobatic layup that put the team up by four.
Beasley got his fourth shot to fall in transition off of a Favors turnover that saw Denver wrap up a 15-3 run that forced a timeout out of Pelican’s head coach Alvin Gentry. Following the timeout, Redick got a 2-point shot to fall that got their scoring rolling again. With less than four minutes remaining, Murray went for a steal, but it resulted in his third foul of the first half. The Pelicans followed that up with another make that put them down two.
With some good ball movement, the Pelicans got an easy dunk for Favors that tied the game at 49. After a number of misses and some hustle by Harris, Jokic was able to get a layup to fall that put the team up by two, but they followed that up by fouling Redick on a 3-point shot. You can’t do that with a guy like Redick, and it resulted in New Orleans retaking the lead 52-51.
Jokic continued to bully the Pelicans inside, and it got him up to six free throws on the night. Ball continued to struggle on threes, but the Nuggets hustled off of a Harris three to get a follow by Barton before Redick tied the game with a straightaway 3-point make. After tying the game, Redick then went down the floor and flicked the ball in with a bank-shot 3-point make from the logo to send them into the half leading 58-55.
Coming out of halftime, the two sides traded misses before Ball got a tip-in basket to fall. After a couple of easy baskets to put the Pelicans up by seven, Malone called a timeout to refocus the team. Coming out of the timeout, Jokic went right to work to stop the bleeding with a basket in the paint. After Harris was blocked, Barton followed it up with a make, but Ingram nailed his third 3-point shot on the night to put the team up by six.
After a Jokic turnover, he stopped the 2-on-1 fast break, and Murray took it all the way to the other end for a basket. Down by eight, Murray went to the basket again where he drew a hard foul, but he was able to make both shots. After forcing a miss from New Orleans, Jokic was able to nail a 3-point shot that cut the lead down to three. If it weren’t for so many turnovers by the Pelicans, the game would not have been nearly as close.
Following a number of turnovers by the Pelicans and Nuggets, Holiday got to the basket to score an easy bucket. Down by four, Harris nailed a corner three that put the team down by one. Barton had a big chase-down block midway through the third quarter, but the team was unable to convert it into any points on the offensive end.
Following a Pelicans timeout, the Nuggets didn’t actively pursue the ball on a rebound, and it led to an easy bucket for Ingram. Jokic got himself a mid-range jumper that cut the deficit to four. Following a Barton miss, Plumlee got a follow dunk to fall and get the team within two. After several 3-point misses, Ball got a 3-point shot to fall that put the team up by five.
Off of a jump ball, Beasley got himself an easy basket running to the rim, and he forced a moving screen foul on the other end of the floor. Ingram continued to torch the Nuggets from outside with his fifth 3-pointer on the night that got the lead to six before Barton got one to fall. The third quarter ended with the Pelicans up 84-80 thanks in large part to Ingram who was quickly developing a reputation as a Nugget killer.
Straight out of the fourth quarter, the two sides traded buckets back and forth before they began trading misses. Following a big block by Mason Plumlee, Harris was fouled in transition to prevent an easy basket. Denver got the basket anyway, but the Pelicans would not be denied after a 3-point shot by E’Twaun Moore put them up by five. Grant answered with a 3-pointer of his own to bring them within two.
New Orleans quickly responded as they continued to make tough shots and outbound the Nuggets, which helped them to push their lead to nine with just over four minutes remaining. Brandon Ingram — who was phenomenal all night long — hit a big three with just under three minutes remaining, which pushed New Orleans lead to 10 points.
Jrue Holiday would hit a jumper with 2:03 remaining and all of a sudden the Pelicans lead was 12 and Denver’s seven game winning streak was in serious jeopardy. Even though the Nuggets battled for the final two minutes of play, the Pelicans were just too much on Christmas night for Denver to overcome as New Orleans came into Pepsi Center and stole a 112-100 victory.