CHARLOTTE, N.C. – For a few, brief early-game moments, the Nuggets looked in sync. But things began deteriorating soon thereafter and they never recovered in a 110-93 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday night at the Spectrum Center.
It was the first game of a four-game Eastern Conference road trip for the Nuggets.
Charlotte took the lead for good at 13-12 with 5:36 left in the first quarter. It was part of an 11-0 run that provided the Hornets a little cushion, and that led soon grew larger.
Much of that lead was built on 3-point shots. The Hornets averaged just 29 percent shooting from the arc entering the contest. But they nailed 43.3 percent of their tries against the Nuggets (13-of-30), much of it coming on drive-and-kick opportunities, and some in scramble situations where they passed the ball to the opposite side for open shots.
The Nuggets, meanwhile, struggled to find the range. Jamal Murray got out to a good offensive start, but few others did as well. Shots didn’t fall. The Hornets lead grew as large as 27 points before the Nuggets started showing signs of life.
That came in the form of a 13-point third quarter for Gary Harris, who made 5-of-8 shots from the field. The Nuggets scored 29 points overall in the third and had the lead down to 17 at the start of the fourth. Early in the fourth, the Nuggets cut the lead even further, down to 11 points at 90-79.
But Charlotte had enough to hold the Nuggets off and get the victory.
The Nuggets were led by Harris and Nikola Jokić, who had 18 points apiece. Jokić added 11 rebounds. Murray had 16 points. The Nuggets shot just 38.4 percent from the field and 25.8 percent from the 3-point line.
The Hornets were led by Frank Kaminsky’s 20 points. Kemba Walker had 19, and Dwight Howard finished with 15 points and 19 rebounds.
The Nuggets return to action on Friday at Atlanta in the second of the current four-game road trip.
Christopher Dempsey: firstname.lastname@example.org and @chrisadempsey on Twitter.