Hornets-Nuggets Preview

Playing at an especially high level at home, the Denver Nuggets

enjoyed one of the most successful months in franchise history.

The New Orleans Hornets appeared to be having a breakthrough

month before struggling the second half of January.

The Nuggets will try to carry their momentum into February and

win for the 12th time in 14 games Friday night when they host the

Hornets, who have lost four of five.

With a 118-110 victory over Houston on Wednesday, Denver (29-18)

won its fifth straight to finish 12-3 in January. That matched the

team’s 2010 mark for the best January record in franchise


After being saddled with the heaviest road schedule in the NBA

in 28 years with 22 of their first 32 games away from home, the

Nuggets have taken advantage with 15 of 18 at home since the

schedule turned in their favor Jan. 1.

The Nuggets have one of the league’s best home records at 19-3,

and they’ve won the first three on their six-game homestand.

“We knew from the beginning of the season January was the most

important month of the season,” said Danilo Gallinari, who had a

game-high 27 points against the Rockets. “I thought we responded


Gallinari, the team’s leading scorer at 17.0 points per game,

heads into Friday’s contest with a hot hand after totaling 54

points on 19-of-33 shooting – 7 for 15 from 3-point range – in his

last two games.

Ty Lawson has totaled 39 points in his last two against the

Hornets, scoring 17 on 8-of-10 shooting in a 102-84 home win Nov.


Denver ranks near the top of the league in scoring at home with

108.0 points per game, and has averaged 113.4 during its five-game

winning streak.

The Nuggets should be able to keep it going against the Hornets,

who have given up 103.6 points per game over their last seven.

New Orleans (15-31) has won seven straight when holding

opponents under 100 points, but that won’t be easy against a Denver

team that has scored 100 in regulation in 10 of its last 13


After winning six of seven during their best stretch of the

season in January, New Orleans has lost five of seven and two in a


The Hornets, however, are expected to have Eric Gordon back in

the lineup after missing a 104-99 loss at Utah on Wednesday. Gordon

has been held out in the second game of back-to-backs while he

recovers from a knee injury that caused him to miss the first third

of this season.

Gordon has averaged 17.4 points and is coming off a season-best

25-point effort in a 111-106 road loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on

Tuesday. New Orleans has won eight of the 14 games the guard has


Greivis Vasquez is averaging 11.7 assists over his last seven

games, but he’s shot 18 for 59 (30.5 percent) in his last four for

New Orleans.

Without Gordon, the Hornets’ starting guards shot 11 of 30 (36.7

percent) from the floor against the Jazz.

“A lot of times you guys look at the numbers and assists and you

think they’re playing well but they’re not,” coach Monty Williams

said. “We’re not managing the game properly.”

The Nuggets have won four of six in the series, including two

straight at home by an average of 16.5 points.