When: 8:30 MST
Where: Denver, Colorado (Pepsi Center)
Watch/Listen: ESPN and ESPN Radio FM 104.3
The Denver Nuggets stop home for one game Friday night to take on the New Orleans Pelicans before embarking on a three-day road trip.
The Nuggets scored only 82 points against the Trailblazers on Monday night, hopefully three days of rest will rejuvenate their offense for Friday’s game. The Nuggets were coming off a 7-2 stretch before the offense stalled in Portland. Nikola Jokic had his worst shooting night of the season other than his zero point performance against Orlando in the second game of the season. As a team, the Nuggets shot a season low 35.7% from the field, they will certainly look to improve on that mark Friday night.
The New Orleans Pelicans are right behind the Denver in the Western Conference Standings. At 8-7, they sit at seventh in the west and are a half game back of the Nuggets. The Pelicans last played on Wednesday, when they hosted the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors had their way with the New Orleans defense, scoring 125 points and ending the Pelicans two-game win streak.
The Nuggets last met the Pelicans in April of last season. Denver won that match up 122-106, in a game where DeMarcus Cousins did not play. Three days prior to that, Denver won their only meeting with the Pelicans in which Davis and Cousins both played.
Whenever any team plays the Pelicans, the first order of business is always containing Davis and Cousins. The All-star front-court duo is responsible for almost half of the points the Pelicans score. Cousins and Davis are both averaging above 25 points per game and rank fifth and sixth respectively in scoring in the NBA. Only Jrue Holiday and E’Twaun Moore join Cousins and Davis in averaging double figures.
For the Nuggets, they are hopeful to get guard Gary Harris back after he missed the past two games with a shoulder injury. Rotoworld originally reported on Wednesday that Harris went through practice and was expected to play against the Pelicans. However, the website updated their report on Thursday, stating that the third-year-pro is officially questionable. If Harris can play, he will most likely be inserted back into the starting lineup. That will move Will Barton back to his more comfortable role off the bench.
Wilson Chandler is coming off arguably his best game of the season. Scoring fourteen points, collecting seven rebounds, and dishing out six dimes, it was Chandler’s first time all season scoring in double figures in back to back games. The Nuggets would love the veteran to return to his usual form, after a relatively disappointing start to the season offensively.
The Nuggets only bright spot from three in their last game was Paul Millsap, who knocked down five of his nine attempts. At the same time, Jamal Murray had his worst shooting night, going zero-of-seven from three. Apart from Millsap, the Nuggets shot four of 23 from long range.
Friday will also be a revenge game opportunity for Jameer Nelson. Nelson was waived by the Nuggets at the beginning of the season, and was quickly claimed by the Pelicans. Since then, the crafty veteran has found a nice spot as the New Orleans backup point guard. Nelson hasn’t been shooting all that well, but he is doing a nice job of taking care of the ball. Nelson is averaging 26 minutes, seven points and four assists a game. He also turns the ball over less than twice a game. It will be interesting to see how the 35-year-old does against his former team.
This match up may just be any other early season game, but in the grand scheme of things is huge. The West is going to be a dog fight this year. Denver and New Orleans are two teams that could find themselves on the bubble come April. It is imperative for the Nuggets to pick up a game on a team they are jostling with, and more importantly get a win at home before a road trip. Hopefully the offense can bounce back against a Pelicans team that allows over 108 points a game.
Stay tuned to Dig In Denver for postgame coverage.