Game Preview: Pelicans vs. Nuggets - December 27, 2013

Pelicans vs. Nuggets Game Preview

It’s been two long weeks since the New Orleans Pelicans last hosted a game – the lengthiest such in-season stretch in recent memory – but on Friday, they’ll finally get to perform in front of their home fans. The Denver Nuggets provide the opposition, in the first of a back-to-back set for New Orleans that is capped by a Saturday road game at Houston.

The Nuggets lead the head-to-head season series 1-0 over the Pelicans, after pulling away in the second half of a Dec. 15 game for a 102-93 victory. The contest was deadlocked at 52 at halftime, but the Nuggets broke it open with a 23-16 third quarter and went up by as many as 14 points. Five different Denver players reached double digits in scoring, headed by 19 points apiece from frontcourt starters Wilson Chandler and J.J. Hickson.

Playing without the injured Anthony Davis and Tyreke Evans, the Pelicans shot poorly from the three-point arc (7-for-24) and foul line (12-for-19) at Denver. Ryan Anderson did everything he could to keep the Pelicans within striking distance, finishing with a game-best 26 points and six rebounds. Austin Rivers contributed 17 points off the bench.

New Orleans has fared poorly record-wise against the Western Conference teams currently in the slots just above the Pelicans in the standings, making Friday’s game another important matchup for NOLA. Denver will clinch at least a split of the season series with a victory on New Orleans’ home floor, with two meetings remaining. The Nuggets return to the Crescent City for a March 9 game, followed by a April 2 contest in Colorado.

The Pelicans have several connections to the Rocky Mountain State, including that Jason Smith was born and raised in Colorado. Nuggets GM Tim Connelly was a member of the New Orleans front office under Dell Demps prior to taking over Denver’s front office this summer.

Pelicans Jrue Holiday
Intriguing matchup: Point guard
Jrue Holiday vs. Ty Lawson
Two of the Western Conference’s numerous excellent floor generals, Holiday and Lawson played to a virtual statistical draw in the Dec. 15 game. Holiday finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists, nearly identical to Lawson’s output of 12, eight and three in those categories. Foul trouble limited Holiday to 31 minutes.
Nuggets Ty Lawson