The Denver Nuggets haven't put together full 48-minute efforts lately, but they keep finding ways to come out on top. A visit by the lowly New Orleans Hornets could help them continue their winning ways.
Denver will try to match a season high with a fourth consecutive victory Sunday night when the Hornets look to snap their six-game losing streak.
After rallying from 14 down at halftime for a 101-94 victory over Minnesota on Wednesday, the Nuggets (7-6) outscored Golden State by 17 in the final 24 minutes of Friday's 102-91 win.
"We've been doing good adjusting out of halftime. The only negative is we can't let ourselves get down,' said Andre Iguodala, who finished with a season-best 29 points and six rebounds. "We've got to be ready to start off well, take leads in the first half and try to put them away with those big runs in the third quarter.'
The Hornets (3-8) had one of those on Friday - a 16-6 stretch to open the season half behind four 3-pointers from Ryan Anderson - but they let a 19-point third-quarter lead slip away in a 111-108 overtime loss at Phoenix. New Orleans, which opened its four-game trip Wednesday with a 115-107 double-overtime defeat to Indiana, have lost by eight or fewer four times during its skid.
"We have a lot of games like this,' Anderson said after setting a career high with 34 points and matching one with eight 3s. "We've just had a lot of games come down to the stretch.'
Anderson is expected to make a fourth consecutive start in place of No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis, who has been out with a ankle injury.
Anderson had 11 rebounds on Friday, but without Davis and forward Jason Smith, who is questionable after suffering a corneal abrasion on Friday, the Hornets could have major problems on the glass.
Led by Kenneth Faried (149 rebounds) and Iguodala (86), the Nuggets are grabbing a league-best 48.5 rebounds per game. Denver is also first with 16.2 per game on the offensive end, contributing to its NBA-high average of 19.7 second-chance points.
The Hornets can't afford to give the Nuggets any more chances, as their defense has been awful during their skid, giving up 109.2 points per game and 77 3s in 171 attempts (45.0 percent).
Denver's perimeter defense hasn't been overly impressive this season, and the team has allowed 23 3s during its winning streak. However, the Nuggets are giving up just 92.3 points per game during this stretch.
Coach George Karl gives point guard Ty Lawson plenty of credit for that. Lawson had 18 points and nine assists on Friday while holding Warriors leading scorer Stephen Curry to a season-low six points.
"Ty's pressure in the last couple of games has been getting better," said Karl, whose team plays eight of nine on the road following Sunday's game. "He's understanding he can be a pest on that end of the court."
That could be helpful against Hornets point guard Greivis Vasquez, who set career highs with 25 points and 14 assists on Friday. Vasquez averaged 8.5 points and 6.5 assists as these teams split four games in 2011-12.
Denver's 110-97 victory March 9 helped it avoid a third straight home loss to New Orleans.
The Hornets' last 0-7 stretch was an eight-game slide from Jan. 29-Feb. 10.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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