The New Orleans Pelicans and the Denver Nuggets will both be gunning for a victory on 3/26/2017 at 8:05 PM when they meet in a game matchup.
New Orleans Pelicans vs Denver Nuggets
When: 8:00 PM ET, Sunday, March 26, 2017
Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado
|717||New Orleans Pelicans||-6.5 (-110)||226.5 (-110)||210
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FSN New Orleans, Altitude (Denver)
PREDICTION: Pelicans 102, Nuggets 94
Pick: O (NO at DEN) @ OVER 228 -110
Oddsmakers currently have the DENVER listed as -6.5 point favorites versus the NEW ORLEANS, while the game’s total is sitting at 226.5.
DENVER — The last time Nikola Jokic was in front of his home fans he supplied a must-see highlight at the expense of LeBron James, backing and bumping the league’s four-time MVP deep into the paint before swishing a hook shot over his extended reach.
The Denver Nuggets (35-37) need all the production they can get from their rising 22-year-old Serbian big man as they head into the final 10 games of the regular season. They are clinging onto the eighth spot in the Western Conference, with the Portland Trail Blazers in hot pursuit.
On Sunday, the Nuggets will play the New Orleans Pelicans (30-42), another team in the playoff chase, in Denver’s last game at the Pepsi Center before a five-game road trip.
It will be the first of three meetings in 12 days between the two teams. It means Jokic will have plenty of opportunity to further grow his reputation as he squares off against New Orleans’ frontcourt pairing of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.
“It’s almost like you want to see what he does next,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone told the Denver Post after his team’s 125-117 win over the Indiana Pacers on Friday. “The guy is just a treat to watch and fun to play with. The scary thing is he’s only going to get better. For him to be playing at such a high level is a credit to him and his work ethic.”
Jokic had 16 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists to go along with his fearless floater over James in Denver’s 126-113 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday. Then on Friday, he had game-highs with 30 points and 17 rebounds.
“His basketball IQ seems to be just off the chart,” Indiana coach Nate McMillan said after seeing Jokic for a second time this season. “We’ve compared him to Bill Walton back in the day. They are doing a good job playing off that.”
After consecutive losses to the Houston Rockets, the Nuggets have shot 50 percent from the field and have missed only three of their 56 free throws in their last two games.
Wilson Chandler has averaged 21 points on 60-percent shooting in that time, since returning from a groin injury, while Danilo Gallinari, who had missed four games with a bone bruise in his knee, had 21 points and 11 rebounds in his return Friday.
Gary Harris and Will Barton, meanwhile, each has scored 20-plus points in three of his last five games.
“We have a lot of guys who can score,” Chandler told NBA.com. “Some nights some guys are going to be hotter than others. That’s just how it is. But when we’re sharing the ball and everybody is scoring, we’re pretty good.”
The Pelicans are still working to mesh Cousins and Davis after they traded for the talented, hot-tempered Cousins last month.
But it’s looked pretty good of late.
The two big men have combined to score at least 60 points in each of the last two games, while Cousins looks to have found his stroke from the 3-point line — going 5 of 9 from the perimeter in back-to-back contests.
“I think he’s playing great,” New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said. “He is a physical presence on the inside for us and he can also step outside and play.”
Cousins hasn’t lost his trash-talk game, either.
The Pelicans had won three straight before Friday’s 117-107 loss to the Rockets — a defeat that got contentious late and had Cousins accusing Houston forward Ryan Anderson of flopping by the end.
“He just kept falling,” Cousins told reporters. “He did it the entire game. He just flopped. He didn’t want to defend — that’s one thing. He’s known for not wanting to defend, so he just falls. It’s terrible, man.”
The Nuggets beat the Pelicans 107-102 in the season opener on Oct. 26 despite Davis’ 50 points and 15 rebounds.