Hornets-Nuggets Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 08, 2012
The New Orleans Hornets have only one road victory over a team with a winning record. They can double that total with another win in Denver. In a matchup of teams coming off painful defeats, the Nuggets hope to avenge their earlier home loss to the Hornets in Friday night's rematch at the Pepsi Center. New Orleans' lone victory in its 10 road games against teams currently over .500 was a 94-81 win over the Nuggets (22-18) on Jan. 9. That was Denver's lone loss in its first seven games at the Pepsi Center and came three days after the Nuggets won 96-88 in New Orleans. The Hornets (9-30) arrive in Denver this time on the heels of Wednesday's 99-98 loss in Sacramento. New Orleans led by one and inbounded with 8.9 seconds left, but Isaiah Thomas stole Trevor Ariza's pass and found John Salmons cutting to the basket for the go-ahead layup with 6.8 seconds remaining. Ariza, who had three of the team's season-worst 23 turnovers, missed a 16-footer as time expired to saddle the Hornets with a third straight loss. "You have to take care of the ball," coach Monty Williams said. "I didn't like the fact that we turned the ball over at the end of the game, but we also turned it over 20 times. It's always easy to point to that last play because we had the lead and the game in control." Jarrett Jack had 25 points on 11-of-17 shooting but turned the ball over five times, while Chris Kaman had 18 points, 11 rebounds and a career-best eight assists. The Hornets lost for the first time in six games in which Kaman scored at least 18. They're 3-22 when he plays and scores 17 or fewer. Kaman had 20 points in the win over the Nuggets, while scoring six in the loss. Denver is also coming off a disheartening defeat Wednesday, falling 100-99 to Cleveland and having a four-game winning streak snapped. Kyrie Irving put the Cavaliers ahead with a driving layup with four seconds left for the ninth lead change in the final 2:36. Ty Lawson, who made the decisive baskets in wins over San Antonio and Sacramento in Denver's previous two games, missed a layup at the buzzer. "Just keep moving forward," said Lawson, who had 18 points and six assists. "There's too many games to worry about one." Similar to New Orleans, Denver's sloppiness with the basketball led to its demise. The Nuggets committed 18 turnovers, leading to 24 Cleveland points, after averaging 10.5 during their winning streak. Lawson was the biggest offender, turning the ball over a career-worst seven times. Denver also didn't get much help from Danilo Gallinari in his second game back after missing 13 with a chip fracture in his left foot. After having four points Monday against Sacramento, Gallinari, who averages a team-best 16.1 points, scored five on 1-of-7 shooting in 22 minutes off the bench versus Cleveland. He had 23 points in the win over the Hornets and 15 in the loss.
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