Charlotte Hornets barely bested by Denver Nuggets: VAVEL Recap
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Coming into the night, both teams had playoff implications on the line. The Denver Nuggets were looking to gain some consistency that the team had been lacking since their return from the all-star break. Since the break, they have been sloppy and careless with the ball, which has led to committing too many turnovers. The team looked a step slow defensively and the team was struggling to live up the lofty expectation based on their success last season.  With that being said, neither team played at a great pace, something which Denver in particular struggles with on the road. 

Both teams started the game shooting well, particularly the Hornets, who have been hot from deep lately, mostly due to the likes of Rozier, who shot 5-9 from 3; (39.0 3PT% on the season), Graham (3-9 from 3; (36.6 3PT% on the season) along with teammates like Miles Bridges, PJ Washington, Monte Morris, and, when healthy, Malik Monk have helped spread the floor for the entire team.

The Hornets didn't stay in the game based solely on their 3 Point shooting (34.6 3PT% on the season; 39.4% on 13-33 attempts tonight). Denver's biggest issue of the night was being plagued by live-ball turnovers and poor defensive effort throughout the night. Denver also struggled to get Jokic involved in the early going. 

The Hornets got a lot more from their bench early on and this was a major factor in helping Charlotte get into an offensive rhythm to start the game in the 1st quarter that was sealed by a buzzer-beating floater by Graham. 

But as all basketball fans know (talking to you, Kings fans), basketball is a game of runs. Soon enough, the shots started to even out for the Nuggets, who were seemingly able to get whatever they wanted in the paint in the second quarter.  Plumlee, Jokic, Jerami Grant were all major contributors along with Jokic who appears to have shaken off his early-season rust and is slowly returning to his MVP/top ten player caliber that propelled the Nuggets to the 2nd seed in the Western Conference last season as the half ended 60-57 Denver.

The Hornets responded with a huge run to start the second half as Graham got hot and it felt like there was nothing Murray could do but sit there and get torched as the Hornets not only came back - but grew their lead to four behind a Three from Rozier with 1:09 left in the 3rd.

The fourth quarter was honestly as evenly competitive and entertaining a quarter I had watched in a while. It's games like this that make NBA league pass worth every penny to me. 

Devonte Graham continued to impress in his first game back from his left ankle soreness, using his athletic ability to draw fouls late in the game, putting the Hornets up 111-110 with 57.4 seconds left in the game. 

Ultimately, after a couple of free throws tied the game at that sealed the game with six seconds remaining, though Rozier got a decent look from three, he wasn't able to convert on a last-second shot for the Hornets.

Playoff Implications:  

  •  The Nuggets remain in 3rd place in the West and find themselves only one game back from the Clippers.
     
  • With tonight's loss, the Hornets are now six games behind Memphis for the 8th seed in the playoffs.
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