Hornets bench stings Nuggets

A complete side note here to the folks at Altitude TV – with the Nuggets upcoming eight game roadtrip are we the viewers going to have to suffer through the local city’s musical styling during each commercial breakaway? In Memphis we were treated to some pretty horrible country twang and last night in New Orleans we had to suffer through some jazz jingle. Please let me know if that is a yes so that I can fill my ears with cement before the broadcast … thanks.

Tipoff was delayed last night as medical personnel were at the aid of a fan near courtside. The fan had to be carted out on a stretcher and taken to a local hospital. If this person were a Nuggets fan then this was the perfect way to spend this game …

Carmelo Anthony is set to return tomorrow night against the Charlotte Bobcats and his arrival couldn’t come at a better time! Last night against the Hornets Denver’s starters did their job outscoring New Orleans’ starters 68-52. The Nuggets’ bench however, was outscored by the Hornets’ bench 13-42. Ballgame.

If Carmelo would have been in the lineup then JR Smith’s 20-points would have come off the bench and Denver may have won the game last night. Don’t let the final score fool you though. The Nuggets took the lead from N.O. at the 10:23 mark of the fourth quarter on a running JR Smith jumper. At that point the Hornets made their run scoring 14 straight and finished the game on a 26-11 outburst.

Peja Stojakovic was feeling it again last night and led the team with 26-points on 10-14 shooting. The Nuggets let him post up smaller guards and hit little fadeaways and set shots all night long. But the surprise player of the night was seldom used reserve guard Devin “I’ve played for a lot of teams” Brown. Having played in one game in his previous four, Brown, a career 33% three-point shooter was 3-3 from three-point land and 3-4 from two-point range. Brown scored 18-points off the bench and was the second leading scorer for the Hornets. It was just one of those games for the Nuggets.

The two bright spots for Denver? Kenyon Martin had a strong performance going 10-12 from the field and leading the team with 22-points to go along with JR Smith’s aforementioned 20-points.

Denver’s offense mustered a season low 81 points. The offense settled for too many jumpers and three-pointers throughout the contest. Up 12-4 in the first quarter Denver didn’t take advantage of the slow start by the Hornets and instead of extending the lead allowed N.O. to go on a 9-0 run and get right back into the game with a 13-12 lead.

Had Denver kept taking the ball to the rim and working the ball inside this game would have had a different outcome. Denver shot 4-22 from beyond the arc (18.2%). JR, Billups, and Kleiza combined to go 4-19 (21%) from distance, yet kept putting up brick after brick from long range.

In Denver’s previous three wins Kleiza averaged 20.3 points and in Denver’s two most recent losses the Lithuanian averaged a paltry 7 points. Pretty easy to see that when Kleiza is attacking the rim he scores points and can be a difference maker. And when Kleiza is relying on his streaky shot like last night (1-6 from distance and 1-2 from inside the arc) then he is a very mediocre reserve player.

The bright spot is that the Nuggets went 6-4 without Melo and are now 30-16, hold a 1½ game lead over Portland in the Northwest, and are tied with San Antonio for the second most wins in the Western conference. The Nuggets now get their best player back just in time for an extended roadtrip and brutal upcoming schedule.

Carmelo should get a nice tune-up game in against the Bobcats who have been playing well as of late (6-4 in their last 10 games) before the Nuggets face the Spurs.

Views you can use:

  • Billups has a combined 6 assists in his previous three games – averages 6.5 assists per game

  • Anthony Carter is shooting 30% (7-23) in his last five games – shooting 43% on the season
  • The Nuggets swatted just 4 shots against the Hornets after recording 15 blocks versus the Grizzlies the previous night