NEW ORLEANS- Well, if that wasn’t a nail biter, we’re not sure what was. The Denver Nuggets started off this road trip 2-0 but now, they are 2-2 with two big wins over the Miami Heat and the New Orleans Pelicans, both games going down to the wire.
The Nuggets spread things out among all of the players who played and each of the seven Nuggets who set foot on the court ended the game in double digits with the exception of Kenneth Faried, who left the game injured.
Danilo Gallinari led the Nuggets for the second game in a row with 28 points, 5 boards, and 3 assist in his 42 minutes. Gary Harris had 23 points on 10/12, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists. Nikola Jokic threw in 21 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 assists. Mason Plumlee had 13 points on 6/12 shooting, 11 boards, and 3 assists.
Denver’s three guards finished the game combining for 54 points, 13 boards, and 17 assists. The Nuggets Power Towers finished the game with double-doubles, combining for 34 points, 23 boards, and 7 assists and were huge on stopping DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis on their home court in the Smoothie King Center.
The Nuggets shot 53.5% from the field, 43.3% from downtown, and 71.4% from the charity stripe. Denver out rebounded New Orleans with 50 rebounds, 31 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks. The Nuggets had 54 points in the paint and 11 turnovers.
Anthony Davis was the one to lead the Pelicans with 41 points and 5 rebounds. DeMarcus Cousins was the second leading scorer for New Orleans with 30 points, 14 boards, and 9 assists. Cousins also fouled out in the final seconds of the game as he sent Harris to the line to secure the game.
The Pelicans shot 51% from the field, 43.8% from downtown, and 88.2% from the free throw line. The Pelicans were only able to grab 35 boards, have 30 assists, 5 steals, and 9 blocks. The Pelicans had 7 turnovers and 68 paint points.
The Nuggets and Pelicans were back and forth in the first quarter and at the half, Denver trailed New Orleans 75-69. The Nuggets left their defense somewhere else as they allowed the Pelicans to have 75 points in the first half, a franchise high for points scored in a half for New Orleans. Coming into the third quarter, Denver continued their strong game play by outscoring New Orleans 65-56 in the second half, a 19-5 run in the fourth quarter giving the Nuggets the momentum to finish the game strong.
While the first half was just a lot of back and forth, the second half is where things got interesting for the Nuggets, or more like the 30 seconds of the game. With 30.5 seconds on the clock, the Nuggets were up 131-128 but fell asleep on defense as Cousins put up a three pointer that tied the game up and Denver called a time out. After being unable to inbound the ball, Gary Harris called another time out.
After inbounding, Wilson Chandler was fouled by Boogie and made 1 of 2 free throws. The Pelicans took a quick time out and Gary Harris’ defense cause Jrue Holiday to have a back court turnover, giving Denver the ball back and up 1, 132-131. Solomon Hill fouled Emmanuel Mudiay on the inbounds and Mudiay also made just one of two from the charity stripe, Nuggets up 133-131. Holiday picked up the defensive rebound and Harris fouled him before Holiday made a bad pass on their offensive side of the ball and Cousins fouled Harris. Harris, just like Chandler and Mudiay, made just one of two but put the Nuggets up by 3, 134-131. After inbounding, Holiday missed a game tying 27 point jumper and the Nuggets got the final 134-131 win in New Orleans, eliminating the Pelicans from the playoff race.
With tonights win against the Pelicans and the Trail Blazers loss against the Jazz, the Nuggets are just half of a game behind Portland for the eighth seed. The Nuggets advance to 37-40 on the season and will head to Houston tonight to face James Harden and the Rockets.
“Everybody in the locker room is remaining positive, optimistic, and we’re going to play this thing out. Hell of a win for us.” -Michael Malone post game
53.5% Field Goal % 51%
43.3% 3 Point % 43.8%
71.4% Free Throw % 88.2%