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The Nuggets’ seven-game win streak is over.
Behind a well-rounded offensive performance from the Hornets, who had five players score in double figures, Charlotte outlasted Denver 113-107. The Nuggets trailed 64-53 at the half and by eight after three quarters. But the repercussions of Denver’s current five-game road trip, which has seen the Nuggets travel from Portland to Toronto, Orlando and Charlotte, began to set in late in the fourth.
But a spirited Nuggets’ run made things interesting down the stretch. Denver trailed by 10 points with 3:25 remaining and cut Charlotte’s lead to three with just 73 seconds to go. However, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist blocked Juancho Hernangomez at the rim on Denver’s next possession and from there, Charlotte iced the game at the free-throw line.
For a second-straight night, the Nuggets, who entered the game with the second-best three-point defense in the league, allowed their opponent to find their rhythm from beyond the arc. The Magic hit 41 percent of their threes on Wednesday, while the Hornets were 13-35 (37.1 percent) from beyond the arc. Denver was outscored 40-28 in the second quarter as Charlotte hit five threes in the period.
Denver had no answer for the Hornets’ three-point prowess. The Nuggets shot just 8-35 from three. Denver’s starters — Hernangomez, Jamal Murray, Torrey Craig, Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokic — were a combined 1-16 from distance. Not good enough for a team who had been the best in the league from three over its last 12 games.
Murray led the Nuggets with 20 points, five rebounds and six assists. Nikola Jokic added 16 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. Malik Beasley scored 16 points off Denver’s bench on 4-10 shooting from three. Hernangomez tallied 15 points on an efficient 6-9 shooting to go with 10 rebounds.
Tony Parker turned back the clocks to score 19 points off the bench for the Hornets. Craig, who fouled out in only 19 minutes, was able to limit Kemba Walker to 21 points on 4-11 shooting.
The Nuggets play the Hawks on Saturday in Atlanta and could be without the services of their starting power forward. Paul Millsap, who scored 16 points in 19 minutes, left the game in the third quarter and did not return due to a right foot injury.