Half-assed Preview: Hornets @ Nuggets

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Published: February 7, 2007

The Hornets continue their rollercoaster season later today when they face off with the Nuggets, high in the Colorado sky. I'm short on time so let's skip the foreplay and jump to the important stuff…

JR's happy place

  • The Nuggets come into this one having lost six of their last seven. Their only win came in overtime aginst the visitng Blazers last Friday. The Suns were in town on Monday and beat the Nuggets 113-108.

  • The current slide has them sitting in the final Playoff spot in the West with a 23-23 record. Golden State are snapping at their heels at 1.5 games back. Our 21-27 Hornets trail the Nuggets by three games. Full standings here.
  • Carmelo Anthony — the League's leading scorer (31.0ppg) and voted unworthy of an All-Star berth by both fans and coaches — has scored 30+ in three of the last four, including a 31-point, 10-rebound, 10-assist game against Phoenix, the first triple-dip of his career.

    Despite the big numbers, Carmelo has been shooting poorly of late, hitting less than 40% from the field in his last six games.

  • Denver have this other weapon called an Allen Iverson. He's averaging, 28.9ppg this season, good enough for third-best in the L. Since joining the Nuggets, AI has been dropping 27.1ppg on 45.6% shooting.

    He has missed the Nuggs' last four games with an ankle injury, but the word on the internet streets is that he'll play tonight. I'd be surprised if he doesn't, given that he's one of the toughest dudes in the NBA. Rumor has it he once played every minute of a double-overtime preseason game despite being decapitated in the first quarter.

  • Also from the above link, we learn that Denver pivot Marcus Camby probably won't play because of a sore crotch, while Steve Blake and Carmelo have some niggling injuries that shouldn't keep them out. Hopefully Blake will wear his sexy bandage again.
  • Sources tell me there's a 50% chance that Kenyon Martin's season-ending knee injury will prevent him from playing today. You heard it here first.
  • The Hornets and Nuggets squared off once already this season, back in late December at the Ford Center. Back then, Chris Paul had just busted his ankle and Carmelo was halfway through his 15-game suspension. The Hornets won, 99-89. Refresh.

Yeah, so I guess that's everything then.

I kid, I kid. Of course there's the whole JR Smith thing, which John Reid and John Rohde both wrote about today. Anyone else find it spooky that two guys with the initials JR wrote about a dude called JR? No?

Just me then.

Anyway, Earl Jr. missed that Hornets-Nuggets game in late December because of a ten-game suspension stemming from the Knicks brawl. Since his return to the action almost a month ago, he's averaging about 15ppg. Despite Iverson's absence recently, George Karl has Smith coming off the bench, preferring to have that scoring punch from the second unit.

Of course, the Hornets are often criticized for giving up on Smith too early. I think both parties have benefited from parting ways. JR is playing better in Denver and we got the ever-improving Tyson Chandler. All square.

Tip tonight is at 8pm Central. Linkage is below. I gotta run.

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