Nuggets-Pelicans Preview

The Associated Press

With Ty Lawson struggling to regain his touch, the Denver Nuggets haven't been able to generate much scoring during their worst losing streak in nearly two years.

The New Orleans Pelicans seemed to find their rhythm at the end of an otherwise disappointing road trip.

Playing back home for the first time in two weeks, the Pelicans will try to deal the slumping Nuggets a fifth straight loss Friday night.

Lawson averaged a career-best 20.9 points last month, but December hasn't been nearly as kind to Denver's leading scorer. He shot 35.4 percent in the first four games this month before missing two because of a hamstring injury.

Since returning to the Nuggets (14-13), Lawson hasn't been able to shake his slump with 11.8 points per game - almost six fewer than his season average - on 37.3 percent shooting in his last six.

Lawson scored 16 on Monday but missed nine of 14 from the field and committed five turnovers in an 89-81 loss to visiting Golden State. The Nuggets now try to avoid their first five-game slide since February 2012.

''We haven't had a good month," guard Andre Miller said. "We need better practices. We need to get better when we come back from Christmas. It is always frustrating when you are struggling.''

Since ranking sixth in the NBA with 104.0 points per game on Dec. 7, the Nuggets have been one of the league's lowest-scoring teams with a 90.6-point average. Their 40.4 field-goal percentage and 26.9 3-point percentage are the league's worst marks over that span.

Denver has only reached 100 points twice in its last 10 games, though one of those occasions came in a 102-93 victory over visiting New Orleans on Dec. 15. Wilson Chandler and J.J. Hickson led the way with 19 points apiece, while Lawson had 12 on 4-of-9 shooting.

While the Pelicans (12-14) have allowed 105.8 points per game this month, they salvaged the finale of a five-game trip with a strong offensive performance in a 113-100 win at Sacramento on Monday.

"We wanted to get a win to end the road trip," Ryan Anderson, who had a season-low eight points, told the team's official website. "It was just a good team win. It doesn't really matter statistically how you do when we win."

Anderson, who finished with 26 points in the first meeting, has scored 20 or more in five of six games against the Nuggets.

Tyreke Evans had 25 points and 12 assists, while Anthony Davis added 21 points and 11 rebounds in Monday's win. Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon also combined for 34 points and hit 5 of 8 from 3-point range.

Davis has averaged 22.0 points on 52.2 percent shooting with 10.7 boards in three games since missing only seven - including the loss at Denver - due to a broken hand.

With Davis in the lineup, New Orleans should be more competitive on the glass after getting outrebounded 51-32 in the first meeting. The Nuggets, however, are expected to get second-leading rebounder Kenneth Faried back from a sprained ankle.

The Pelicans have totaled 220 points on 48.0 percent shooting in its last two games overall, and averaged 103.4 while winning seven of 12 at home.

They've won the last two meetings in New Orleans.

What to Read Next