Denver Nuggets Fall to Pelicans, 130-125


The Denver Nuggets rallied, but a strong second half by the Pelicans spelled defeat at the Pepsi Center on Sunday night, 130-125.

After falling to the Utah Jazz on Friday night on the road, the Denver Nuggets hoped to get back into the win column after coming home to the Pepsi Center and facing a disappointing New Orleans Pelicans squad. The Pelicans entered the game with one of the worst records in the league, and had lost 13 of their previous 15 road contests.

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For the first half of the game, the Denver Nuggets played well, leading by a 7-point margin at 74-67. The Denver Nuggets scored an astounding 46 points in the second quarter, outscoring the Pelicans by 12 points in the period. The third quarter was a completely different story, as the Pelicans reclaimed the lead after scoring 32 points in the period. The Denver Nuggets offense took a step back from the 2nd quarter, scoring 21 points in the quarter. The Nuggets made a game of it in the fourth quarter, regaining the lead at 106-104, but were ultimately unsuccessful in maintaining their lead to secure a victory at home. This is the second consecutive loss for Denver.

The Denver Nuggets struggled to contain Anthony Davis on Sunday, as the Pelicans’ forward torched the Nuggets for 27 points on 9-13 shooting to go along with 6 rebounds. Davis was one of four Pelicans to score over 20 points against the Denver Nuggets. When Davis came back into the game in the 4th after the Nuggets regained the lead, he catalyzed his team to go unto a 19-10 run. Tyreke Evans recorded a double-double, scoring 21 points and recording 10 dimes, while Eric Gordon added 20 points and was a team high +18. Jrue Holiday scored 21 points off the bench. 

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For the Denver Nuggets, Will Barton stole the show on Sunday against New Orleans. Barton scored a career-high 32 points on 12-25 shooting off the bench for Denver. Kenneth Faried also had one of his best games in recent memory, scoring 21 points and securing 13 rebounds to record a double-double. Danilo Gallinari added 18 points but still continued to struggle to shoot from the field, only making 3 of his 10 shot attempts. Randy Foye added 17 points in 21 minutes off the bench.

The disparity between the Denver Nuggets and the New Orleans Pelicans field goal percentage tells the story of how the Nuggets lost on Sunday. The Pelicans shot over 56 percent from the field, while the Denver Nuggets struggled for much of the night, shooting 10 points less for 46 percent. The Denver Nuggets did assist on 26 of their baskets on Sunday which is a good sign; but nonetheless the Pelicans accuracy from the field gave them an edge that the Nuggets were not able to surmount.

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In their last meeting with the Pelicans in November, the Nuggets won 115-98 because of their good shooting at 53 percent during that game. Though the Denver Nuggets shot almost 49 percent from beyond the arc on Sunday against the Pelicans, which usually spells victory, New Orleans 39 free throw attempts gave them a strategic edge.

Emmanuel Mudiay missed his fourth consecutive game against the Pelicans on Sunday. Hopefully Mudiay will return to the Denver Nuggets in the near future. The Nuggets must look at the positives from this game, where they had significant contributions from starters and reserves. This loss stings — especially against a bad Pelicans team and at home — but as the team continues to grow as the season goes on, these are valuable lessons if they are to remain in playoff contention.

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The Denver Nuggets return to action on Tuesday and will try to get back into the win column against the lowly Los Angeles Lakers at the Pepsi Center.