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Nuggets go back to drawing board in search of success

Denver coach Brian Shaw focuses on fundamentals after two-day break



With two days to reflect on a four-game losing streak, Denver Nuggets coach Brian Shaw went back to the basics Thursday.

Cutting without the ball. Setting good screens. Pushing the ball up the floor. Rolling to the basket.

“I think that’s what you do when you struggle as a player individually and as a team,” Shaw said. “You go back to the basics and clean up the fundamentals and start from there.”

With plenty of room for improvement, the practice had a training-camp feel to it. Shaw stopped play several times to go over points of emphasis, and the players were noticeably winded when it was over.

“We just talked about playing like you practice,” Shaw said. “We showed the guys instances when there were loose balls and the opposition dives and we’re reaching to get it. We just wanted them to compete, get after one another and play with more pace and more speed.”

After scoring at least 100 points in 12 of 14 games from Nov. 7 to Dec. 3, the Nuggets have reached the century mark just twice in their past 10 games; they are 3-7 during that stretch.

“We scored 81 points (Monday) night,” Shaw said. “That’s not enough to win. Offensively, we‘re doing everything too slow . . . I told (point guard) Ty (Lawson), if the guys don’t want to run the floor with him, take it 1-on-5 against the defense to get our wings to run and to get our bigs to rim run.”

The Nuggets will try to incorporate the lessons of Thursday’s practice into Friday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans. They beat the Pelicans 102-93 at Pepsi Center on Dec. 15. That also happens to be Denver’s most recent victory.

“The way we get back into it is going back to what helped us win games early on,” Denver guard Randy Foye said. “You have to go back to the drawing board and just look at what helped us win and try to stay consistent with those things.

“You could win seven in a row, lose three out of four and then come back and win seven in row and change everything. Winning changes everything and that’s something we have to do.”


NUGGETS AT PELICANS


WHEN:
6 p.m. MT
WHERE: New Orleans Arena, New Orleans
TV; RADIO: Altitude2; AM-950

PROBABLE STARTERS
DENVER (14-13)

F Wilson Chandler
F Kenneth Faried
C J.J. Hickson
G Randy Foye
G Ty Lawson

NEW ORLEANS (12-14)
F Ryan Anderson
F Al-Farouq Aminu
C Jason Smith
G Eric Gordon
G Jrue Holiday

INJURY REPORT
DENVER:
Faried (sprained left ankle) is day-to-day; Danilo Gallinari (knee) and JaVale McGee (fractured left tibia) are out.
NEW ORLEANS: Gordon (bruised right hip) and Smith (bruised right knee) are day-to-day. Greg Stiemsma (left knee sprain) is out.

SERIES NOTES
Denver is 9-7 since 2004-05 when playing on the road against New Orleans . . . The overall series has been very competitive over the last eight regular seasons (and all-time): 15-14 in favor of Denver and 33-33 overall . . . The Nuggets set an NBA postseason record for margin of victory on the road back during the 2009 Playoffs against the Hornets, defeating New Orleans by 58 points (121-63) in Game 4 of the first round at New Orleans Arena on 4/27/09 . . . New Orleans is one of only two NBA franchises to have never had a player score 40+ points against the Nuggets (Indiana the other).