Zion Williamson posts up vs. Aaron Gordon

Panzura postgame wrap: Nuggets 114, Pelicans 112

Nuggets (41-21), Pelicans (27-35)
by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

Denver entered Wednesday’s game ranked third in the NBA in offensive efficiency, not needing any help to put up big numbers on the scoreboard. Unfortunately for New Orleans, the Pelicans provided plenty of it, turning the ball over at a high rate en route to dropping the opener of a critical three-game road trip.

Despite those miscues, New Orleans had a chance to tie the game in the waning seconds, but Nikola Jokic blocked Zion Williamson’s layup attempt at the rim. The Pelicans argued for a foul call against Jokic, but the Nuggets instead collected the rebound and sealed the win.

“I saw a wide-open Zion under the basket,” explained Brandon Ingram, who dropped off a pass to Williamson at the doorstep on the decisive play. “Pretty much 10 times out of 10 I see him finishing that play. Obviously all of us thought it was a foul, but the referee saw something different. At the end of the day, we have to go with that.”

After committing 21 turnovers and losing to the Nuggets, New Orleans dropped to four games behind No. 10 Golden State (31-31) in the race for the final play-in spot.

IT WAS OVER WHEN…

Denver’s P.J. Dozier missed two straight free throws with five-tenths of a second remaining in regulation, but New Orleans did not have enough time to grab the rebound and toss up a 90-foot shot before the buzzer. Fill-in starting Denver point guard Facundo Campazzo drained consecutive three-pointers to put the Nuggets up by 13 points with 3:16 left, before the Pelicans used a series of unusual sequences to make the hosts nervous in the final minute.

PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME

Lonzo Ball’s triple-double, his first of the season and seventh of his NBA career, featured 16 points, 12 rebounds and 13 assists. He also notched four steals and two blocks.

BY THE NUMBERS

49.4: New Orleans shooting percentage from the field, a strong night. Denver shot slightly better at 50.6.

12/30: Pelicans three-point shooting. A struggle earlier in April, perimeter shooting has been on the uptick for New Orleans over the past week.

REVISITING THREE KEYS TO VICTORY PRESENTED BY FANDUEL

OFFENSIVE BALANCE

The balance was pretty good. The “make sure we get a shot at the basket” part of the offense was not. Five Pelicans notched double-digit points, including 10 from Jaxson Hayes in only 14 minutes of action.

DEFENSIVE INTENSITY

New Orleans came up with 13 steals and five blocks. The Pelicans averaged 6.3 swats in the three-game season series against the Nuggets.

POUND THE GLASS

New Orleans won rebounding but only by a 42-38 margin. In both losses to the Nuggets in 2020-21, the Pelicans grabbed six offensive boards, but they amassed 14 in the March 21 triumph in Colorado.

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