The Denver Nuggets will try to extend their three-game winning streak on Sunday night when they welcome the struggling New Orleans Hornets to the Pepsi Center.
The Nuggets, who have played nine of their first 13 on the road, will look to go 4-1 at home on Sunday. Their three-game winning streak featured two road victories and a triumph at the Pepsi Center on Friday night over the Golden State Warriors.
Golden State held a six-point halftime lead, but the Nuggets outscored the Warriors, 31-17, in the third quarter. On Wednesday in Minnesota, Denver bested the Timberwolves, 25-15, in the third frame.
These third-quarter outbursts may just be part of the master plan.
"We wear teams out," said forward Kenneth Faried. "We keep running the first quarter and second quarter. They start to get worn out and that's when we come out and punch them in the mouth in the third quarter."
The Nuggets outscored the Warriors and T-Wolves, 29-2, in the first five minutes of the third quarters.
The Nuggets lead the NBA in rebounding and their rebound differential of +7.38 is tops in the league.
The Hornets are heading in the opposite direction of their opponent on Sunday.
New Orleans has lost six in a row and this is the third in a four-game road trip. The Hornets dropped the last two, in Indiana and in Phoenix, in overtime.
"It's just hurtful the way we've been losing," admitted point guard Greivis Vasquez. "We just have to play better defense. Our defense is just struggling."
New Orleans is 23rd in opponents' scoring, so, yes, defense is a problem. But the Hornets are 23rd in scoring themselves, so the offense isn't exactly clicking.
First overall pick Anthony Davis will miss his fourth straight game with a stress reaction in his left ankle. Fellow first-rounder Austin Rivers, taken 10th, was demoted out of the starting lineup Friday in favor of Roger Mason, Jr.
With all of the problems the Hornets are experiencing, it could be worse without Ryan Anderson, who was acquired in an offseason sign-and-trade. Against the Suns, Anderson scored a career-high 34 points on 8-for-13 shooting from beyond the arc.
It was a performance Suns' coach Alvin Gentry called "Larry Bird-like."
These two teams have split their last 16 games, but Denver is 4-2 at home in the last six against the Hornets.