The Denver Nuggets have scored at an even higher rate than usual recently. Most impressive about the stretch is how much depth they are showing.
The Nuggets look to win their fifth straight when they visit the New Orleans Hornets on Friday night.
Denver (43-21), among the league leaders with 107.7 points per game, has averaged 117.3 during its winning streak after being held to fewer than 90 in back-to-back losses to the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix.
The Nuggets opened a four-game road trip with a 110-102 win over Minnesota on Wednesday, with six players finishing in double figures.
Carmelo Anthony(notes), who scored 30 or more in the previous three games, shot 6 of 16 from the field for 19 points, but he was helped by his teammates as Chauncey Billups(notes) scored 25, Nene had 17 and J.R. Smith(notes) added 15.
Smith, averaging 15.2 points, is scoring 18.8 per game during the winning streak. He hit three 3-pointers in the third quarter, when Denver outscored the Timberwolves 31-19.
“Sometimes J.R. is going to have it rolling and I can take a back seat, just facilitate,” Billups said. “Sometimes other guys will be going. That’s the beauty of a team.”
The improved play of Smith and Chris Andersen(notes), who is averaging 11.3 points over the last four games, has helped make up for the absence of Kenyon Martin(notes), who is out indefinitely while undergoing plasma therapy on his left knee.
Martin is averaging 11.8 points and a team-high 9.6 rebounds.
The Nuggets are looking for their second victory in three games against the Hornets (32-33) after recording a 116-110 overtime win Jan. 23. Anthony had 30 points while Billups had 20. Billups did not play in a 98-92 loss in New Orleans on Dec. 18.
While Denver was short-handed in that game, it is the Hornets who will be this time. Chris Paul(notes) remains out following knee surgery and the team learned this week that Peja Stojakovic(notes) will be out for at least two weeks with a lower abdominal strain.
Stojakovic has averaged 20.0 points against Denver this season.
The Hornets have dropped five of six, falling 98-83 at Oklahoma City on Wednesday. David West(notes) scored 33 points, but New Orleans was held to its fewest points since an 86-78 loss to Portland on Nov. 13.
The Hornets have reached the playoffs the last two seasons but are in 11th place in the Western Conference.
“We have to come out with the intensity and concentration that we put in, in terms of a game plan,” West said. “Come out and try to compete to win a game that we have in front of us, regardless of who we’re playing.
“It’s going to be difficult for the young guys but it’s going to be a great opportunity to get some experience.”
Rookie point guard Darren Collison(notes) will look to bounce back after he was held to eight points and nine assists after notching 16 points and 20 assists in a 135-131 win over Golden State on Monday.