Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images
Nuggets Hold Off Pelicans Late at Home
The Denver Nuggets gave the New Orleans Pelicans a glimmer of hope early but used a lights out second quarter and a late run to log a 116-111 victory at Pepsi Center Monday night.
The Nuggets fell behind by four after one, then outscored the Pelicans by 19 in the second quarter to improve their record to 5-1 on the season and a perfect 4-0 at home. The victory was Denver’s 11th straight on its own floor, dating back to last season.
New Orleans trimmed what once was an 18-point third-quarter deficit all the way down to two on a pair of occasions in the fourth, but Denver never folded. Nuggets reserve guard Malik Beasley sank a 3-pointer from the wing to put his team ahead five with 3:31 to go, then came up with a key steal on the very next possession and finished the sequence with a layup that put Denver in the driver’s seat for good.
“It’s not just me. It’s the whole team,” said Beasley, who finished with 12 points and six rebounds in 31 minutes off the bench. “We all moved the ball well and played good defense.”
In a matchup that pitted Denver, rated third in the league defensive rating coming into the game, against New Orleans, the NBA’s top scoring outfit, against each other, the Nuggets held the Pelicans to 13 points below their season average. Playing without superstar forward Anthony Davis (elbow sprain) and starting point guard Elfrid Payton (ankle) New Orleans tied their lowest point total of the season.
“I think our guys understood, ‘We let them back in the game. We’re gonna have to win this game.’ And we’re gonna win it with defensive stops and offensive execution and making your free throws and we were able to do that.”
The Nuggets connected on 21 of 23 free throws turned the ball over nine less times than the Pelicans.
The backcourt tandem of point guard Jamal Murray and Gary Harris led the way offensively for the Nuggets, scoring 23 points apiece. Paul Millsap added a season-high 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds while center Nikola Jokic flirted with another triple-double, coming up just a rebound shy with 12 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds.
Julius Randle was the Pelicans top scorer with 24 points followed by E’Twaun Moore’s 18, Nikola Mirotic’s 17 and Jrue Holiday’s 17.
Fourth-year pro Trey Lyles provided all the spark the Nuggets needed off the bench with a season-best 17 points.
The Nuggets travel to face the Chicago Bulls Wednesday at 6 p.m. MT. That game will be aired live on Altitude TV and streamed on AltitudeNOW.