The Charlotte Hornets bowed up and stopped a late Denver Nuggets run to win 113-107. Kemba Walker led all scorers with 21 points while dropping 8 assists. Tony Parker and Malik Monk were big in spurts off the bench, scoring 19 and 16 points respectively.
The Hornets were able to turn an early 8-4 deficit to a 14-8 lead thanks to Marvin Williams and Miles Bridges. The Nuggets answered with a run of their own, but Tony Parker put an end to it with a corner 3-pointer in the first quarter’s final seconds. All nine of the Hornets that played in the first quarter scored, but the Hornets trailed 25-24 after the first frame.
The Hornets came out of the gates firing in the second quarter. Through the first four minutes of the frame, the Hornets outscored the Nuggets 18-7. Malik Monk was a catalyst for the run, scoring ten points in the quarter and finding Marvin Williams on a cut to the basket that led to free throws for the veteran. Marvin hit the pair, which gave the Hornets their largest lead of the half, 60-44. After a couple more baskets from each side, the game when into the half with a 64-53 lead. The Hornets senior citizens led the charge, with Tony Parker scoring 13 and Marvin Williams scoring 12 points in the half.
The Hornets missed their first shot of the half, and then the Nuggets went down and scored four points on their opening possession. Nicolas Batum was called for an away from the play foul on an inbound pass before Juancho Hernangomez converted a three point play. The Hornets struggled to get into an offensive groove, which forced James Borrego to call a timeout just over five minutes into the period with only eight third quarter points on the board for the Hornets. It didn’t help, as the Hornets continued to miss most of the shots they took that weren’t blocked. Batum, Kaminsky, and Monk checked in with two minutes to go in the quarter and ignited a 9-2 run to end the period. Monk crossed up Mason Plumlee on the final possession on the way to a three point play to put the Hornets up 87-79 heading into the fourth.
Both teams got off to sluggish starts in the fourth quarter. The Hornets were able to keep the Nuggets at arm’s length for most the final period, but a 10-2 run late in the game brought the Nuggets within three points with 1:13 to go. Tony Parker hit a pull up jumper to put the Hornets up 108-103 and force a Nuggets timeout with 56.5 seconds to go. On the ensuing possession, Junacho Hernangomez looked poised to draw the Nuggets back within three with a dunk, but MKG came out of nowhere to stuff the attempt against the backboard. The Hornets collected the rebound, which forced the Nuggets into foul mode. A pair of Walker free throws set the final score at 113-107.
This is a huge win for the Hornets. Not only does it snap their three game losing skid, but it’s the team’s first win against the Western Conference. The Nuggets came into the game with the best record in the West and had won seven straight games. Kemba Walker and co. will look to build off this win as they travel to New York before a five game home stand.