The Pelican Blog

Denver guard Evan Fournier tries to penetrate against New Orleans defender Anthony Morrow

Pelicans.com postgame: Nuggets 137, Pelicans 107

By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer

Holding the ball beyond the three-point arc during the third quarter of Wednesday’s game, there was no reason for 7-foot-1, 250-pound Denver center Timofey Mozgov to launch a shot. Given Mozgov’s career track record of 1-for-15 from three-point range, there was no reason for New Orleans to guard him. Against all logic, the Russian big man decided to fire away anyway. All net.

In a snapshot, that was pretty much how the Western Conference matchup went for Denver for 48 minutes Wednesday at the Pepsi Center. The fast-breaking Nuggets (33-42) piled up 105 points by the end of the third quarter, en route to a prolific offensive performance. It was the most points New Orleans (32-43) has allowed in any game in 2013-14.

Making the night worse for the Pelicans, All-Star power forward Anthony Davis was forced to leave the game in the second quarter due to back spasms. He did not return after notching six points and three rebounds in his 11 minutes of playing time.

“He felt it a little bit this morning,” Pelicans Coach Monty Williams said of Davis’ back issues. “He tried his best (tonight) to get out there and play. He was great to start, but then when he sat down, it locked up on him. He couldn’t recover.”

Davis showed no indication that anything was bothering him physically during the initial 6:20 he was on the floor, draining three fluid jumpers for his six points. He picked up his second foul with 5:40 left in the first quarter, forcing him to the bench. Davis returned for a middle chunk of the second quarter, but had to be removed from the game again, this time for good.

Williams: “I was close to just pulling him to start the game, but he was like, ‘Coach, I’m good. I can go.’ Then when he played, he looked good. But when I took him out (after) his second foul, everything locked up on him. And then when I put him back (in), he just couldn’t do it. He just pulled the plug.”

With only a brief appearance by the NBA’s leading shot-blocker, New Orleans showed little resistance to Denver’s aggressive attack. The Nuggets piled up 40 points in the first quarter, then added on at least 31 points in each of the final three periods.

Power forward Kenneth Faried capitalized by tallying a career-best 34 points for the Nuggets, who were up 71-53 at halftime and 105-81 through three quarters.

“We’ve been battling that kind of stuff all year,” Pelicans point guard Brian Roberts said of again being short-handed due to injuries, this time an in-game one. “I wouldn’t say we’re used to it, but we kind of are. We just have to rally. We just didn’t have enough tonight.”

“We haven’t given up those kinds of numbers since I’ve been here with our defense,” fourth-year coach Williams said. “That is the toughest part for me, allowing teams to score like that.”

Denver enjoyed a superb shooting night, going 15-for-27 from three-point range, including the extremely rare Mozgov trey. Williams was displeased with the additional points in the paint the Nuggets scored; the hosts dropped in 64 on 32-for-51 shooting.

Led by Tyreke Evans’ 27 points and 17 from Anthony Morrow off the bench, the Pelicans put together a respectable offensive performance, but it wasn’t nearly enough to stay competitive. In addition to Faried’s 34 points, backup point guard Aaron Brooks erupted for 24.

“They just ran up and down the court and did what they wanted to do,” Evans said of the Nuggets. “They did make some unbelievable threes and were on fire tonight, but we have to do a better job defensively.”