Let's try this again.
The Pelicans return home to the Smoothie King Center after a less than relaxing trip out East that saw losses to the Hawks, Raptors and Knicks. All three of those games featured the Pelicans leading at halftime or later. I'm not sure why they insist on running the "lose games late" play, but hey teams have tried crazier ideas.
Spoiler alert: it does indeed pay off for 'em.
Coming to town tonight are the Denver Nuggets, who are a pleasant surprise at 5-5 through 10 games. Denver had a three game winning streak going for them, including wins over Milwaukee and Houston, but that went up in smoke thanks to being on the wrong side of a 105-81 #BEATEMDOWN at Phoenix.
The Nuggets are coached by Mike Malone; you might remember him as the only coach DeMarcus Cousins has ever liked but was fired 24 games into last season by the Kings because...? This wouldn't be the last time Denver benefited from Sacramento's Sacramento-ness either. After the Kings stupidly took Willie Cauley-Stein sixth overall this past draft, the Nuggets swooped in one spot later and selected Emmanuel Mudiay. He hasn't been great or awful, it's been really a happy medium of the two. In his NBA debut against Houston he scored 17 points and handed out nine assists...but turned it over 11 times. He's certainly being provided every chance to improve on his 12 point-six assist average: Mudiay has started all 10 games, averaged 30 minutes a night and posting a usage rate of 28.4, which is the highest number a rookie's had since Kyrie Irving in 2011-12.
Frankly I'm not sure how the Nuggets have won five games because they don't really do anything all that well. Their team slash line of 43/32/74 is good for 23rd, 22nd and 21st in the league respectively. Danilo Gallinari is their leading scorer with 17 points and the Manimal Kenneth Faried is mere decimal points away from averaging a double-double this season (13.2 points, 9.7 rebounds). Mike Miller's on the roster! Sure does my heart good seeing the Baby Boomers still going strong. Keep getting them checks, Mike Miller.
Keys to the Game
1. Own the Glass- The Nuggets are a middle of the road rebounding team and won't have much length available tonight. Centers Jusuf Nurkic, Joffrey Lauvergne and Wilson Chandler are all out tonight and Kenneth Faried is questionable with a sore back. This should, key word is should obviously because who the hell knows with this team, be a night where Omer Asik and Anthony Davis feast.
2. Welcome to the League, Rookie- Emmanuel Mudiay has had his good moments and his bad moments this season. How about the Pelicans make tonight another bad moment? Mudiay is shooting 31/28/64 this season and averaging close to five turnovers a game. He also has an astonishingly high turnover percent at nearly 24 percent. Go get him, Jrue.
3. Wrap it Up- Starting tonight the Pelicans are on the front end of a back-to-back. Tomorrow night they have to travel to Oklahoma City. Hopefully New Orleans wraps this game up quick because you'd hate for them to run out of gas like they did against the Hawks last week.