Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images
Nuggets Fall at Hornets, 7-Game Win Streak Snapped
The Denver Nuggets broke their league-best seven-game win streak with a 113-107 defeat at the hands of the Charlotte Hornets Friday night.
The Nuggets, who’d won also won five in a row on the road prior to the matchup at Spectrum Center, came into the game in sole possession of first-place in the Western Conference standings. However, Denver - rated in the top five in the league in defensive rating - allowed an uncharacteristic 40 points in the second quarter to fall behind 12 at halftime.
“We won three quarters tonight,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “To be outscored 40-28 in the second quarter was definitely a big momentum shift in the game. Talked to our guys at halftime, challenged them and I thought we responded really well. Guys came out and played great in that second half.”
After trailing by as many as 16, the Nuggets dwindled that deficit all the way down to one on a bucket from Juancho Hernangómez with 2:43 to play in the third. Denver would go into the fourth trailing by eight after Charlotte reserve guard, Malik Monk, added a nifty left-handed floater while being fouled plus the subsequent free throw to with seconds to go in the quarter.
“They closed that quarter (the third) on, I believe a 9-2 run and closing quarter is a priority Malone said. “We didn’t close that quarter the way we wanted to.”
The Nuggets (17-8) fell behind 13 points in the fourth without the services of reigning Western Conference Player of the Week Paul Millsap. Millsap went out of the game with a right foot injury after playing 19 minutes. A 3-pointer was made by backup point guard, Monte Morris, with 1:13 remaining, which pulled Denver to within three points. The Nuggets, however, never got any closer the rest of the way as the Hornets won their first contest in their last four outings.
“No excuses,” Malone said. “If Paul’s not able to go to tomorrow (Saturday), that’s an opportunity for somebody else. And that means somebody else moves into the lineup. That means that somebody else gets and opportunity off the bench. All season long, with all the injuries that we’ve had, that’s been the mindset. We can’t worry about it and make excuses. We’ve got to find ways and solutions.”
Denver point guard, Jamal Murray, led his team offensively with 20 points on 8-for-20 Shooting to go along with six assists and five rebounds. Nuggets center Nikola Jokić (16 points, 12 rebounds and six assists) and Juancho Hernangómez (15 points and 10 rebounds) both recorded double-doubles and Malik Beasley had 16 points off the bench. Morris contributed with 12 points.
All-star point guard, Kamba Walker, scored a game-high 21 points, adding eight assists and six rebounds. Tony Parker (19), Monk (16) and Marvin Williams (14) also contributed double-digit scoring nights.
Denver made just 8 of 35 3-pointers (22.9 percent) in the defeat.
The Nuggets complete their five-game road trip on the road against the Atlanta Hawks Saturday at 5:30 p.m.