DENVER – A look at three key numbers related to Friday’s game at the Pepsi Center between New Orleans and Denver (8 p.m. Central, Fox Sports New Orleans, WRNO 99.5 FM):
1.5: Games out of eighth place in the Western Conference for Denver (37-41), which trails No. 8 Portland (39-40). The Trail Blazers, who came from behind Thursday to beat Minnesota on TNT, also own the tiebreaking advantage against the Nuggets, making Friday’s contest a near must-win for Denver. Any combination of Portland wins and Denver losses that adds up to two or more over the final days of the regular season would wrap up a playoff berth for the Trail Blazers and eliminate the Nuggets. Incidentally, Portland wraps up the 82-game campaign Wednesday at home vs. New Orleans, but has a chance to make that evening’s outcome moot if it can prevail in its next two games, both at Moda Center, against Utah and San Antonio, respectively.
10-27: New Orleans record this season when its opponent makes more three-pointers than the Pelicans in a game. Three-point shooting has never been more important in the NBA, and New Orleans’ success can often be dependent upon its ability to sink perimeter shots, or prevent the opposition from doing so. The Pelicans dug themselves a hole early in the season that it never was quite able to dig out from by starting 0-8; in six of those games, the other team connected on more baskets from beyond the arc. That stretch started with a season-opening home loss to Denver in which the Nuggets decisively won that statistic 8-3.
131: Points scored by New Orleans in its most recent game, a 134-131 defeat to Denver on Tuesday. That total represented the most for the Pelicans in any game throughout the entire 2016-17 season. Meanwhile, those 134 points were second-best by the Nuggets in ’16-17, surpassed only by a 140-point eruption vs. Indiana during an NBA Global Games matchup Jan. 12 in London. Despite two consecutive games in which New Orleans has been dissatisfied with its performance on the defensive end, the Pelicans are ranked seventh in efficiency over the course of the entire season (104.6 points allowed per 100 possessions, via NBA.com).