Man, can he play!
Both the Hornets and the Nuggets are coming into this game as winners of four of their last five games, but it is the Hornets that may be now coming back to full-strength. Tonight, they are expecting to have “Don’t call, I’ll” Peja Stojakovic and Morris Peterson return from injuries sustained on Friday against the Grizzlies. The Hornets also bring seven-foot center Tyson Chandler, who is averaging a double-double of eleven points and just as many rebounds, and a budding star power forward in David West, who is averaging 18.2 points per game and always seems to be around the ball, for the Nuggets to contain. These two guys are going to be a handful for Marcus Camby and Kenyon Martin to handle because Chandler is a tireless rebounder and West is a ball of energy on the blocks, perimeter, and off the dribble. Marcus is going to have to put a body on Chandler because Tyson is a legitimate seven feet and probably has better springs than the Minster of Defense and Kenyon is going to have to play honest, square to the basket defense to keep West from scoring 30 because if Kenyon tries to cheat a go for steals and ends up in foul trouble. David will surely have a field day with any of the other defensive options the Nuggets have right now with Nene still on the sideline.
Offensively, the Nuggets desperately need Carmelo to get back on track. He said in his latest blog post that he has been showing up early to practice to get more jumpers up and tonight’s game would be the perfect opportunity for him to explode. Peja is not known for playing the stiffest defense and I think that Carmelo would be well-advised to take Stojakovic down to the blocks and use some power moves to get lay-ups and free-throws early to get his confidence going first before starting to let the jab-step and fade-away fly. There is no doubt in my mind that AI and CP3 are going to give us a show trying to definitively prove who is the fastest man on earth with a basketball in their hands, so it is going to be paramount that Carmelo returns to his regular offensive self to help offset the inevitable offensive support that Chandler and West are going to provide for New Orleans.
The last point that I want to bring up is that the Hornets boast the Western Conference’s best road record at 8-2 so far and the Nuggets are 9-3 at the Pepsi Center. Meaning, that both of these teams are playing in their most favorable of scenarios that have made them so comparable and competitive seeing how New Orleans’ is 14-7 and Denver’s is 13-8, respectively.
Only San Antonio’s perfect 12-0 record at home is better than the Nuggets 9-3 home record mark in the Western Conference picture, but we’ll worry about putting a blemish on that perfection later this week…
Be sure to go see what’s buzzin’ over at www.hornets247.com for a different look at tonight’s game, and be sure to sting Ron for me!