Charlotte Hornets center Dwight Howard (12) made all seven of his first-half shots in Monday’s road game against the Denver Nuggets and center Nikola Jokic. David Zalubowski AP
Charlotte Hornets center Dwight Howard (12) made all seven of his first-half shots in Monday’s road game against the Denver Nuggets and center Nikola Jokic. David Zalubowski AP

Charlotte Hornets

Hornets win streak broken on barrage of Denver 3-pointers; next up is trade deadline

February 05, 2018 11:24 PM

DENVER

The Charlotte Hornets just can’t string together four victories this season.

They appeared to be building momentum, recovering from a 21-point deficit Sunday against the Phoenix Suns for a third consecutive victory. But Monday, the Denver Nuggets beat them primarily along the 3-point line, 121-104 at Pepsi Center.

The Nuggets (29-25) made 18 of 31 3-pointers over the first three quarters to lead 97-84 entering the final period. Never this season have the Hornets (23-30) won more than three consecutive games.

Hornets center Dwight Howard (19 points) had a big first half, but his Nuggets counterpart, Nikola Jokic (15 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists), took command of the match-up in the third quarter with 10 points and six rebounds. Meanwhile, Nuggets guard Gary Harris scored 15 of his 27 points in the first quarter, as Denver took a 14-point first-half lead.

Help us deliver journalism that makes a difference in our community.

Our journalism takes a lot of time, effort, and hard work to produce. If you read and enjoy our journalism, please consider subscribing today.

Hornets point guard Kemba Walker scored 20 points, making three of his six attempts from 3-point range a night after becoming the Hornets’ career leader for 3s made.

This was the second of a four-game West Coast trip for the Hornets. They play at the Portland Trail Blazers Thursday before facing the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City Friday night.

Three who mattered

Howard: He made his first seven shots from the field Monday.

Harris: The son of a former WNBA player, Harris lit up the Hornets early, making five of six 3s in the first quarter.

Will Barton: The undersized small forward made seven of his first eight shots.

Observations

▪  The NBA did the Hornets no favors with this week’s schedule: The two road games of each season in high altitude – Denver Monday and Utah Friday – are both the second game of back-to-back sets.

▪  One of the things Hornets coach Steve Clifford originally envisioned when Michael Carter-Williams was signed in July was playing MCW and Walker together. That’s happened more of late, in part to let Walker play some off the ball and conserve energy in long-minutes situations.

▪  After a brutal stretch of the schedule (three games in four days, with a cross-country flight on the off day), the Hornets will have two days off from games in Portland, Ore., before they play the Trail Blazers Thursday night. By the time that game tips off, the NBA’s trade deadline will have passed (3 p.m. EST).

▪  The Nuggets were shaky as far as depth coming into this game: Neither Wilson Chandler (illness) nor Darrell Arthur (knee soreness) participated in shootaround, but both were available to play.

▪  Hornets reserve center Cody Zeller was limited to about seven or eight minutes per half in his first two games back from knee surgery. It appears that restriction has been relaxed now. A good thing, because Howard can use the help.

Worth mentioning

▪  It sounds like there is a good chance Hornets power forward Marvin Williams (sprained ankle) will be cleared to play Thursday against the Portland Trail Blazers. Williams has missed the past four games.

▪  Clifford had a long chat pregame with his former assistant Bob Weiss, who is now with the Nuggets. Weiss moved to Denver over the summer to be closer to family.

▪  Clifford has close ties to Nuggets coach Mike Malone. Clifford worked for Malone’s father, former NBA coach Brendan Malone, in summer basketball camps when Clifford was a high school coach in New England. Mike Malone was often one of Clifford’s campers those summers.

Report card

B OFFENSE: The bench is starting to score on a consistent basis, which seems long overdue.

F DEFENSE: Awful. It started along the 3-point line, and then Jokic got going with drives to the rim.

C- COACHING: In fairness, the second game of a back-to-back, in mile-high altitude, is a formula for failure.

Rick Bonnell: 704-358-5129, @rick_bonnell

NUGGETS 121, HORNETS 104

Charlotte

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

A

F

Pt

Kaminsky

22:19

4-8

0-2

2

3

1

9

Kidd-Gilchrist

28:13

1-3

0-0

3

2

1

2

Howard

27:51

9-11

1-5

7

1

3

19

Batum

31:03

5-11

2-4

4

5

2

15

Walker

33:20

6-13

5-6

3

4

1

20

Graham

25:41

4-7

0-0

1

2

0

11

Lamb

25:26

5-11

3-3

3

2

3

14

Zeller

17:01

2-3

4-4

10

1

2

8

Carter-Williams

16:37

3-6

0-0

1

1

3

6

O’Bryant III

3:07

0-2

0-0

0

0

0

0

Bacon

3:07

0-0

0-0

1

0

0

0

Monk

3:07

0-2

0-0

0

0

0

0

Stone

3:07

0-0

0-0

1

0

0

0

Totals

240:00

39-77

15-24

36

21

16

104

Percentages: FG .506, FT .625. 3-Point Goals: 11-26, .423 (Graham 3-4, Walker 3-6, Batum 3-7, Kaminsky 1-3, Lamb 1-4, Carter-Williams 0-1, Monk 0-1). Team Rebounds: 4. Team Turnovers: 10 (14 PTS). Blocked Shots: 1 (Howard). Turnovers: 10 (Howard 2, Walker 2, Zeller 2, Batum, Carter-Williams, Kaminsky, Kidd-Gilchrist). Steals: 7 (Graham 2, Lamb 2, Kaminsky, Monk, Walker).

Denver

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

A

F

Pt

Barton

33:56

7-10

2-2

2

8

2

18

Chandler

21:07

1-4

0-0

0

0

0

2

Jokic

32:28

5-11

3-3

16

7

3

15

Harris

33:39

9-13

4-5

1

2

1

27

Murray

32:11

7-15

0-0

4

7

3

18

Craig

26:53

3-6

0-0

7

2

1

6

Lyles

24:22

4-8

1-2

7

1

2

11

Mudiay

18:04

5-7

1-1

2

2

0

12

Arthur

13:44

4-5

0-0

1

1

3

10

Hernangomez

1:48

0-0

0-0

1

0

0

0

Beasley

1:48

1-2

0-0

0

0

0

2

Totals

240:00

46-81

11-13

41

30

15

121

Percentages: FG .568, FT .846. 3-Point Goals: 18-34, .529 (Harris 5-7, Murray 4-8, Arthur 2-3, Barton 2-3, Jokic 2-4, Lyles 2-4, Mudiay 1-1, Beasley 0-1, Chandler 0-1, Craig 0-2). Team Rebounds: 3. Team Turnovers: 11 (15 PTS). Blocked Shots: 2 (Barton, Lyles). Turnovers: 11 (Jokic 3, Harris 2, Murray 2, Arthur, Barton, Beasley, Mudiay). Steals: 10 (Arthur 2, Jokic 2, Murray 2, Barton, Chandler, Harris, Mudiay).

Charlotte

25

37

22

20

104

Denver

36

27

34

24

121

Att.—14,410 (19,155).

Officials—Brett Nansel, Kane Fitzgerald, Kevin Scott