Photo: Chuck Burton/Associated Press
The Denver Nuggets will look to build off back-to-back wins against the Thunder and Warriors as they take on the Charlotte Hornets Monday night at Pepsi Center.
Where: Pepsi Center-Denver, CO
When: 7 p.m. MST
Watch/Listen: Altitude Sports and Entertainment-Altitude Sports Radio AM 950
Earlier in the season the Nuggets suffered one of their most frustrating losses at the hands of the Charlotte Hornets. The loss was just the fourth game of the Nuggets season and moved Denver’s record to 1-3. The Nuggets were still trying to figure out how to play with Paul Millsap, and lost to the Hornets 110-93. Denver shot 8-31 from three in that game, while the Hornets went 13-31 from behind the arc. Times have changed since that game though and the Nuggets now sit just one and a half games behind the Thunder for the fifth seed in the West. With a record of 28-25, the Nuggets will look to continue to climb in the Western Conference standings with a victory Monday night at Pepsi Center.
The Hornets seem to be going the wrong direction in the Eastern Conference standings and currently sit three games behind the Philadelphia 76ers for the eighth and final playoff spot. With a record of 23-29, the Hornets have played steady basketball as of late, but are seven games under .500 on the road this season. They are riding high on a three game winning streak and have gotten strong play as of late from All-Star snub Kemba Walker. Walker is the teams leading scorer at 22.8 points per game and also leads the team in assists at 5.9 per game. Walker shoots just under 40 percent from behind the three-point line and attempts around seven threes a game.
Another name the Nuggets will have to look out for is grizzled veteran Dwight Howard. Averaging a double-double on the season (15.9 points and 12.7 assists), Howard could potentially present a lot of problems for the Nuggets in the paint. In the two teams matchup earlier this season, Howard went for 15 points and 20 rebounds and was a huge problem for Nuggets big men to try and stop on either end of the court. It’ll be interesting to see if Nuggets center Nikola Jokic can have a bounce back game against Howard on Monday night. If for some reason he can’t, expect the Hornets to lead in the rebounding category when the game is all said and done.
The Nuggets are looking to stay hot after a buzzer beating win over the Thunder and a tough, grind it out victory over the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night. Gary Harris has stepped up as of late and still leads the Nuggets in points per game with 17.4. Harris’s three-point percentage is up to 39 percent and he’s playing confidently attempting six threes per game. The job Harris has done defensively for the Nuggets has been stellar as well and puts him in the top 10 in the NBA in steals per game with a clip of 1.9.
Point guard play and the matchup in the post will be the ones to keep an eye on Monday night at Pepsi Center. The matchup between Walker and Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray will be a big one to watch as Murray will look to continue his strong play of late against another great point guard in Walker. Murray’s point per game total is up to 16.5 and he’s averaging just under 38 percent from behind the three-point line, a number that’s skyrocketed since the beginning the season. If Murray is able to hold Walker in check and if Jokic can slow down Howard, the Nuggets should be happy with what the scoreboard reads when the night is all said and done.
Stay tuned to Dig In Denver for postgame coverage.