PJ Washington got the road trip off to a fast start with a game-opening bucket that earned a “dipsy-doo” from Eric Collins and a nice block on Michael Porter Jr. a few possessions later. The Nuggets made some ill-advised passes early on and the Hornets ran sound halfcourt offense, canning three triples by the midway point of the first.
As was the case on Monday against Sacramento, the Nuggets got whatever they wanted in the paint. The pace of the game picked up a bit towards the end of the quarter and both teams played disorganized, but the Hornets came out of the first down only one point, 26-25, after scoring just four points in the final five minutes.
Within three minutes of the start of the second quarter, Charlotte’s starters checked back in and scored eight points in two minutes to close the gap after Denver had put up quick points. Jokic was absolutely shredding the Hornets’ defense with his passing; it didn’t always end in an assist, but he moved the ball with purpose and the Nuggets got clean looks for most of the quarter.
LaMelo Ball attacking the rim and Terry Rozier knocking down shots were the Hornets’ only sources of offense in the first half. Rozier put up 15 points on three made 3-pointers and LaMelo had 11. Denver went on a 7-0 run to end the half, and the Hornets trailed 57-45 at the break.
The Hornets had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad start to the second half. The Nuggets went on an 8-0 run to start the third (we’re at 15-0 dating back to the first half) and pushed their lead north of the 20-point mark in just over two minutes.
With both Los Angeles teams coming up on the schedule, this was a good night to bow out early, rest the starters and gear up for two tough opponents in the next three days. It was 80-59 Nuggets with 5:02 left, and this game couldn’t have been more over unless the clock read all zeros.
Props to Collins and Dell Curry for keeping the broadcast interesting during a blowout at nearly 11:00 PM EST. The Fat Lever discussion after Jokic notched his triple-double was fun and they gave us the lay of the land in the Eastern Conference standings as the teams around them wrapped up their games.
Again, with both LA teams coming up and this game out of hand, throwing in the towel and turning to the bench guys would’ve been fine, but James Borrego left LaMelo in at the beginning of the fourth for some reason. It doesn’t matter much, but the guy could use some rest.
The fourth quarter was entirely garbage time. Vernon Carey Jr. checked in with about five minutes left, Nick Richards and Jalen McDaniels got some time, and the Nuggets gave Bol Bol and the rest of their end-of-bench guys some run. Facundo Campazzo was instigating and annoying Hornets players all night and honestly, it was very funny to watch. Denver won 129-104 but that’s beside the point.
Rozier put up 21 points, five boards and four assists to lead the Hornets. Monk had 16 off the bench and LaMelo had 14. Porter Jr. led Denver with 28 and 13 rebounds, while Jokic notched a 12-point, 10-rebound, 10-assist triple-double. Will Barton scored 23 points.
Tonight’s takeaways; that game was really, really bad and I want to forget about it.