Nuggets hand Hornets worst loss of season in 129-104 rout
The Denver Nuggets defeated the Charlotte Hornets Wednesday night, 129-104, in a blowout that was essentially over through three quarters. The 25-point slaughter was the Hornets’ (20-19) worst loss of the season, and an encouraging sign for a resurrected Nuggets (24-16) team.
Charlotte took an early first quarter lead but relinquished it shortly thereafter, committing nine sloppy turnovers in the first half. A 12-point halftime Denver lead quickly ballooned to 28 through three quarters and afforded Nuggets Coach Mike Malone the luxury of resting stars Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray for the final frame.
“We just took the momentum from going into halftime and we took it into the third quarter,” second year player Michael Porter Jr. said. “We did a good job just playing as a team. It was really fun.”
Porter Jr. led Denver with 28 points and 13 rebounds, but the win was a solid team effort punctuated by five Nuggets in double-digits, including Will Barton (23 points, 8-of-15 shooting), Murray (19 points), P.J. Dozier (13 points) and Jokic, who recorded his 52nd career triple double with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
“We’re getting there” Porter Jr. said of the chemistry between him, Jokic and Murray. “We’re loving playing together, we’re having fun together, we’re starting to learn each other’s game and it’s showing I think.”
A picture is worth a thousand words
Body language summed up the story of the game in the fourth quarter. As both teams’ backups put up empty stats with the result in hand, the broadcast panned to LaMelo Ball slouched in a chair on the sideline, with a contemplative blank expression. By contrast, Michael Porter Jr. and fellow Nuggets teammates smiled, jumped and cheered as teammate Bol Bol made a crafty layup. Ball, the favorite to win Rookie of the Year, will have to move on quickly to mentally bounce back in time for a matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers Thursday night.
What it means
Both teams rode into the evening’s matchup on a wave of recent success, with the Hornets on a four game winning streak and the Nuggets having won six of their last seven. The game presented an opportunity for both teams to move up in the standings, where they both currently sit at the 5 seed in their respective conferences.
For Denver, the win is a validating performance over a solid playoff contender on both sides of the ball. The 129-point outburst was their third highest scoring game this season, and highlighted why they are a top 5 offense in the league. They also held Charlotte to 31.6% shooting from 3 and only 67 points through three quarters, suggesting that they can lock down on the defensive end too.