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Second-half focus leading to success for Nuggets

Denver looks to run winning streak to four against New Orleans Hornets


If at all possible, good football teams never abandon the run.

They pound the ball off the tackles, chipping away 1, 2 and 3 yards at a time until breaking a big play against a weary defense.

The Nuggets have followed a similar strategy of late, pushing the pace and playing physical before overwhelming the opposition after halftime.

“We wear teams out,” Denver forward Kenneth Faried said. “We keep running the first quarter and second quarter. They start to get worn out and that’s when we come out and punch them in the mouth in the third quarter.”

In their most recent victories over Minnesota and Golden State, the Nuggets outscored the Timberwolves and Warriors 29-2 in the first 5 minutes of the third quarter and 112-74 in the second half.

“We can be losing in the first and second quarter and come back,” Faried said. “You know how to play and you stay focused. Coach said, ‘Keep running and keep running and it’ll break.’ It broke.” During their three-game winning streak that started with a victory over the league-leading Memphis Grizzlies, the Nuggets are surging in the second half.

On average, Denver has outscored the opposition 52-39, held a 25-20 rebounding edge and limited teams to 35.7 percent shooting after halftime.

“I wish we could find a way to bottle that,” coach George Karl said after a light practice Saturday.

The Nuggets will try to bring the intensity from the opening tip Sunday against the New Orleans Hornets.

The Hornets saw their losing streak reach six games Friday night in Phoenix as the Suns used a 39-9 surge to overcome a big second-half deficit.

Here is a closer look at Sunday night’s matchup:

HORNETS AT NUGGETS


WHEN:
6 p.m. MT
WHERE: Pepsi Center, Denver
TV; RADIO: Altitude; 104.3 FM, AM-950

PROBABLE STARTERS
DENVER

F Danilo Gallinari
F Kenneth Faried
C Kosta Koufos
G Andre Iguodala
G Ty Lawson

NEW ORLEANS
F Al-Farouq Aminu
F Ryan Anderson
C Robin Lopez
G Roger Mason
G Greivis Vasquez

INJURY REPORT
DENVER:
Wilson Chandler (hip) and Julyan Stone (hip) are out.
NEW ORLEANS: Anthony Davis (ankle) is doubtful; Eric Gordon (knee) is out.

SERIES NOTES
The Hornets have played very well on the road against Denver in recent years, having gone 6-6 at the Pepsi Center since the start of the 2005-06 season . . . The Nuggets went 0-1 against New Orleans in Denver in 2010-11, marking the first time since 2005-06 that the Nuggets failed to win a game in Denver vs. New Orleans . . . The overall series has been very competitive over the last six regular seasons (and all-time): 13-13 and 31-31 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 is the other).