Ugh, the first quarter was an absolute abomination. I don’t know if Denver was tired from the trip or the game itself in Memphis, but the Nuggets looked sluggish as all get out as they scored a mere 19 points in the first quarter on 8-18 from the field including a woeful 1-5 from downtown. Adding insult to how lackadaisical the Nuggets looked offensively was their lack of a rebounding effort as they were only able to clear six rebounds total in the first quarter. And it wasn’t like the Hornets were playing great basketball. New Orleans turned the ball over eight times in the first quarter and thankfully the Nuggets were able to capitalize to the tune of ten of their first 19 points on said miscues.
Trailing, 20-19, after one, Denver regrouped offensively in the second quarter with the help of some easy buckets, but still could not hit the broad side of a barn from long range as they missed another four out of five attempts from the land of plenty bringing their grand total from three for the half to a sickening 2-10. However, this game was still well within a winnable margin at the half as the Nuggets were down by just two, 46-44. Even after Kenyon Martin was hit with a technical foul when Chris Paul bought himself a whistle by grabbing Kenyon’s arm trying to break the full court pressure of Denver with five seconds left in the half I still thought the Nuggets would be able to regroup and get this win on the road. It was a good technical. It sent a message that the Nuggets weren’t going to be spectators while Paul’s antics stole the show.
The Nuggets gained their first lead of the second half, 59-58, with under five minutes remaining in the third quarter, but it was short-lived. The Hornets quickly regained the lead and held it until the ten minute mark of the fourth quarter when J.R. Smith’s floater gave the Nuggets back the lead, 70-68. What came next was complete déjà vu from last night only this time it was the Nuggets who completely flat-lined and surrendered to the Hornets. Denver went scoreless over the next 4:50 as New Orleans went on a 14-0 run that sealed the Nuggets' fate.
Peja Stojakovic tied a season-high mark of 26 points and Chris Paul recorded his 29th double-double of the season with 12 points and ten assists. All eleven Hornets who saw the floor scored; even former Nugget and all-around stiff, Ryan Bowen. And as a whole the Denver reserves were outscored 46-13 by the subs of New Orleans.
As I said in my recap from last night’s win against the Grizzlies, Denver didn’t take care of the ball tonight and their 19 turnovers and it really turned around and bit them. Those 19 turnovers resulted in 23 points for the Hornets and kept the Nuggets from establishing any kind of continuity offensively. Every time Denver would seemingly be mounting some momentum an unforced turnover would occur and completely pull the chair out form under them.
Overall, this was a hard game to watch, and one that should be forgotten.