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Recap: Denver Nuggets survive on the road against Charlotte Hornets

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Charlotte Hornets Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets started out their game against the Charlotte Hornets with a heavy dose of Aaron Gordon cutting to take advantage of the double teams that were going in the direction of Nikola Jokic. Gordon six of the team’s first nine and eight of their first 11. The Hornets were taking advantage of slow rotations by the Nuggets, and they were knocking down shots from outside. Despite a lack of scoring from Jokic, the Nugget starters were leading by nine when Bones Hyland and Austin Rivers entered the game. The bench got absolutely obliterated to end the first quarter, and they let Charlotte right back into the game.

To start the second quarter, the wheels completely fell off for Denver’s second unit. After leading by nine when they came into the game, they went -12 in under six minutes with Jokic off of the floor. Following an early timeout by Michael Malone, Jokic came back into the game, and the Nuggets started pushing the pace and started working their way back into the game. Between the work of Jeff Green and Gordon, they were making up for Jokic’s lack of scoring, although he was quickly working his way towards a triple-double for the first time since March 7th against the Golden State Warriors. Denver went into the half trailing by one after leading by two at the end of the first quarter.

To start the second half, the two sides were trading baskets, but, around midway into the quarter, Denver started to go on a run as they scored 12 straight points to stretch out the lead. They were eventually led by nine with about four minutes to go. A brief altercation between Gordon and Montrezl Harrell took place around the three-minute mark that saw Harrell receive a double-technical with Gordon getting just one. With most of the starters on the bench, the Nuggets’ second unit continued to struggle on the offensive end, and they were just trying to maintain the lead. Bones hit a triple with four seconds left in the period, and Denver led 93-84 heading into the final period.

Unlike the way they started the first half, the Nuggets’ second unit got off to a roaring start in the fourth quarter, and they eventually got the lead up to 13. A run by the Hornets prompted a Malone timeout, and the bench responded with a run of their own out of the timeout as they were maintaining the lead right around double digits. Denver’s starters came back into the game, and they were getting outhustled by the Hornets on both ends of the floor as the Hornets were working their way back into the game. A 3-pointer by LaMelo Ball with around four minutes remaining had them within one. Jokic started the game slowly, but he was rolling late as he was doing all of Denver’s scoring. Denver was leading 109-104 with a minute remaining, but the Hornets weren’t going down without a fight following a terrible pass by Will Barton that gave Charlotte a free two points. With 38.8 remaining in the game, Monte Morris went to the line where he went 2-of-2. On the other end, Terry Rozier hit a huge 3-pointer, and they were within two. Following an offensive rebound, Jokic was sent to the free-throw line with 8.6 seconds on the clock, and he had Denver leading by four. Denver wins the game 113-109 for their 23rd road win of the season, which was a new franchise record.

Stat Leaders

Points: Nikola Jokic - 26

Assists: Jokic - 11

Rebounds: Jokic - 19

Player of the Game: Nikola Jokic & Aaron Gordon - 47 points, 26 rebounds, 14 assists, 18-of-33 field goal, 1-of-3 3-point, 10-of-16 free throw