Nikola Jokic finally broke through on the offensive end for the Denver Nuggets and he’ll try to stay hot when they open a four-game road trip at the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday. Jokic is being relied upon to carry much of the scoring load this season but opened the campaign with a total of seven points on 3-of-13 shooting through two games.
The 22-year-old then erupted for 29 points to go along with nine rebounds and five assists in a tough 109-104 loss to Washington on Monday, although his technical foul for bumping Wizards head coach Scott Brooks helped to seal Denver’s fate. “I scored, and we lost. Maybe it’s better for me to not score,” Jokic told reporters after assessing the intent of the bump with Brooks. Jokic averaged 28.5 points, 13.5 rebounds and seven assists while shooting 77.4 percent in two matchups with the Hornets last season. Charlotte fell to 0-2 on the road with a 103-94 loss at Milwaukee on Monday, as center Dwight Howard missed all nine of his free throws.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, Altitude (Denver), FS Southeast (Charlotte)
ABOUT THE NUGGETS (1-2): Jokic had seven of Denver’s 23 turnovers in the loss to Washington, which left the team with an NBA-high 20 giveaways per game entering Tuesday’s action. “Give them credit; good defensive team,” coach Michael Malone said. “But I think a lot of those were self-inflicted. ... But I just told them, we’re getting ready to go on a four-game East Coast trip and we cannot bring those turnovers with us.” Newcomer Paul Millsap scored at least 17 points in each of his first three games with the Nuggets.
ABOUT THE HORNETS (1-2): Howard offset some of his free-throw woes with 22 rebounds and four blocked shots and he ranked in the top three in both categories entering Tuesday. Backup center Cody Zeller (knee) missed the last two games and forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (personal) has yet to play this season. Reserve big man Frank Kaminsky stepped up with an average of 19.5 points while making 13-of-22 shots over the past two games.
1. Nuggets PG Jamal Murray is 5-for-21 from the floor and 0-for-9 from 3-point range over the last two contests.
2. Hornets F Marvin Williams is averaging 5.3 points on 23.8 percent shooting and 1.7 rebounds in 23.3 minutes.
3. Charlotte averaged 117 points in winning both meetings last season.
PREDICTION: Nuggets 110, Hornets 109