Hornets stun Nuggets 110-86, putting end to Denver’s 15-game win streak

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Published: March 25, 2013

I don’t know what is going on anymore.

Seriously, I didn’t even offer a projection for this game in the preview because I thought that the Hornets’ chances of winning were too slim. The Nuggets routed them in both of the series’ first two games in Denver, averaging a 60-44 advantage in points in the paint in those games. Tonight, New Orleans held the Nuggets to just 38 points in the paint, 20 fewer than their season average. Not having Ty Lawson certainly hurt Denver in this regard, but the Hornets were missing both of their starting guards as well, so that isn’t a sufficient excuse. Just a hell of an effort tonight from a depleted Hornets squad, shocking a Nuggets team that had not lost a game in over a month. I have been openly rooting for close losses over the past couple of weeks, but it’s impossible for me not to respect and be damn proud of the game that I saw my team play tonight.

 

Three Keys to the Game

  1. Prevent high-percentage looks. Ironically enough, the Hornets performed absolutely terribly in this regard. The Nuggets attempted 66 shots, and 61 of them (92.4%) came from either within the paint (8 feet and in) or three-point range, a number that would make most stat geeks drool. They made 5 out of their 16 attempts from beyond the arc, which isn’t good but not atrocious either. They even earned 39 free throw attempts, 13 more than their season average, making 31 of them (also 13 more than their season average).¬†Unfortunately for Denver, though, they only shot 42.2% from the paint, far worse than their 58.1% average. Credit the Hornets’ big men for not allowing anything easy near the rim.
  2. Slow down the pace of the game. Though the pace certainly picked up at points, overall the Hornets succeeded in this aspect of the game. Denver only forced 12 Hornets turnovers and scored just 12 fast break points off of them. The team’s success on the offensive glass (17 offensive rebounds) also helped prevent the Nuggets from getting out in transition.
  3. Know your opponent and play smart help defense. The Hornets were active all game and were rotating magnificently on the defensive side of the ball. Aminu had some trouble containing Gallinari (24 points on 12 attempts including 4 out of 6 from long range), but apart from that matchup, there wasn’t much else to complain about. Other than Gallinari, the Nuggets made just one of their other ten three-point attempts. Great all-around team defense from New Orleans tonight.

 

Other Notes

  • Wow, Brian Roberts. The Hornets’ backup point guard played the best game of his career tonight, dishing out 18 assists (6 to 1 assist to turnover ratio) to go along with 13 points on 5-10 shooting. He had the offense clicking all night long, consistently finding the open man and leading people to the right spots. He undoubtedly benefited¬†from being guarded by the slower-footed Andre Miller instead of the lightning-quick Ty Lawson, but that shouldn’t take away from how well he played tonight. After watching that game, I really hope that Monty will give Roberts more minutes with the starting unit at point guard over the team’s final 11 games to really see what the team has with him.
  • Anderson, Miller, and Mason Jr. repeatedly hammered the Nuggets from long range, making 13 of their 21 attempts from that distance (the latter two were both 4-5). Mason and Anderson have been shooting well all year long, but it was particularly nice to see Miller succeed when called upon. With Vasquez and Gordon both out, the Hornets needed Roberts and Miller to step up, and both guys did a remarkable job.
  • Al-Farouq Aminu was all over the place tonight, finishing with 13 points (4-11 shooting), 8 rebounds (3 offensive), 3 assists, 3 steals, 3 blocks, and 1 turnover. All but two of his shot attempts came within 5 feet from the rim, which is where he needs to be. Apart from a couple lackadaisical defensive efforts against Gallinari, Aminu had a pretty nice game tonight.

 

The Hornets will look to stretch the streak to four on Wednesday night at home against CP3 and the Clippers.

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