Hornets.com postgame: Nuggets 102, Hornets 84

By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer

Nuggets (8-6), Hornets (3-9)

It was over when… Ty Lawson raced up the floor for a conventional three-point play, then nailed a long jumper to give the Nuggets a 78-50 lead with 3:47 remaining in the third quarter. The Hornets were within striking distance at halftime, only trailing by 10, but the Nuggets opened the third quarter with a 27-9 surge to take a commanding advantage. New Orleans dropped to 0-3 on its current four-game road trip and lost for the seventh consecutive time. The Hornets wrap up the trek Monday with a 9:30 p.m. (Central) game at the L.A. Clippers. 

Hornets MVP: Ryan Anderson scored 16 of the Hornets’ 41 first-half points, draining three more three-pointers, giving him 41 on the season (second in the NBA behind Dallas guard O.J. Mayo, who has 42). He finished the game with those 16 points on 6-for-13 shooting, in 31 minutes of playing time. Robin Lopez scored 12 of his 14 points after intermission, but none of the other three starters posted more than six points total.

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Brian Roberts was one of the few Hornets who turned in an above-average game individually, scoring a career-best 17 points on 7-for-12 shooting. The backup point guard also handed out five assists in his 23 minutes. Fellow reserve Darius Miller had one of his better games early in his career, with seven points and eight rebounds. 

The buzz on… third quarters. According to the website Team Rankings, the Hornets entered Sunday’s game 25th in the NBA (out of 30 teams) in average scoring margin in the third quarter of their games. New Orleans had been outscored by an average of 1.5 points per third period through its first 11 games, a stat that worsened when Denver posted a 32-20 edge Sunday. The only teams significantly poorer than NOLA in this difficult-to-locate stat were Phoenix (minus 2.6) and Brooklyn (minus 4.2). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Hornets have now been outscored in the third period each time on their current three-game road trip. It’s often difficult to pinpoint exactly why certain NBA teams fare better or worse in specific quarters. However, one partial explanation could be that there hasn’t been much of a difference in experience or talent between NOLA’s starting five and the reserves this season. On most teams, the starting group consists of proven, veteran NBA players, while second units tend to include younger players who have yet to carve out a permanent niche. That’s not the case with the 2012-13 Hornets. In general, NBA starters play the bulk of minutes in third quarters.