DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 5: Jamal Murray #27 of the Denver Nuggets handles the ball during the game against the Charlotte Hornets on February 5, 2018 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.
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Nuggets Ring Up 18 Three-Pointers in Comfortable Win Over Hornets

by Christopher Dempsey
Nuggets Insider
@chrisadempsey

There’s nothing like a barrage of 3-pointers to make winning a basketball game a whole lot easier.

Remember when the Nuggets offense sputtered? Yeah, they barely do either. Lately, it’s been on a roll, like on Monday night when the Nuggets buried a season high-tying 18 3-pointers on the way to their third-straight victory, a 121-104 win over Charlotte.

Getting their shooting touch back has been one of the biggest reasons for the offensive resurgence. And in the last nine games, the treys have piled as high as Pikes Peak. Including Monday, the Nuggets have made an eye-popping 115 3-pointers in that span, an average of 12.8 per game. Only the Rockets, Celtics and Golden State Warriors average more 3-pointers per game in that span. Only Utah, Golden State and Portland have a better percentage from the arc than the Nuggets (40.5 percent).

And only the Rockets have made more total 3-pointers than the Nuggets in that span.

“Our players are trying to tell me that the reason we’re shooting so well from three is because we’re not practicing,” said Nuggets coach Michael Malone, smiling. “So, the fact that we are making shots, I think our guys are confident. I think we’ve kind of fought through that fatigue we had earlier in January.”

The stretch of games Malone referenced was a six-game stretch from Jan. 8-16 in which the Nuggets suffered from the arc. In that period, they made just 39-of-132 shots from the arc (29.5 percent), never made 10 in any of those games, and were 2-3 in those contests as a result.

The Nuggets are 6-3 in this hot stretch where they’ve gotten their shooting mojo back.

“And, to me, the best thing about it is how we’re getting them,” Malone said. “It’s one thing to hit tough shots. But when you have examples of the ball movement that’s generating wide open shots, that makes it so much fun. And it’s contagious. That kind of basketball, like we had last year, is contagious. Another game with 30 or more assists, and who doesn’t like playing a game like that?”

Gary Harris sure does. He made 5-of-7 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 27 points against the Hornets. Harris has knocked in 15 3-pointers and is shooting 55.5 percent from the arc in his last four games.

“We just have a lot of guys who can shoot,” Harris said. “Almost everybody can shoot the 3-ball, which makes it fun, especially when we’re all making them.”

Jamal Murray had four treys in the win over Charlotte. The Nuggets survived a shaky defensive second quarter to win comfortably. The Hornets pulled their regulars with just over two minutes remaining.

“We got off to a fast start, and then they went on a run,” Harris said. “We knew if we wanted to win the game it was going to have to start in that third quarter. We had to come out and let them know that it wasn’t going to be their night. That’s what we did.”

Seven Nuggets were in double-figure scoring, and Nikola Jokić nearly collected a triple-double with 15 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists. Will Barton finished with 18 points and eight assists.

But it all started with 3-point shooting.

“(Player development coaches John Beckett) Stephen (Graham) and Ognjen Stojakovic, they are doing a good job with us,” Jokić said. “They are making us better.”

Christopher Dempsey: christopher.dempsey@altitude.tv and @chrisadempsey on Twitter.