Charlotte led early after a slow start from Denver but once the Nuggets got in the groove they stormed on for a 119-115 win. Denver's Nikola Jokic was a big reason they came away with the win, as he scored 40 points, had 27 rebounds, and 10 assists on his way to a triple-double.
The game went scoreless for nearly the first two minutes before Terry Rozier finally broke through with a two-point shot to give the Hornets the first points of the game. Both teams combined to shoot 0-6 before that point.
The rest of the first quarter was more of the same for Denver as Charlotte banked off of Nuggets' mistakes to hold a 25-20 lead after the first period.
Charlotte looked to have an advantage in the second quarter when the Hornets led by as much as 12 points but a 17-3 run by the Nuggets to close the half gave Denver a 55-52 lead going into the locker room. A 14-point quarter from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope helped the Denver effort.
Denver opened the second half with an 8-2 run that effectively left them in control of the game. The Nuggets broke out to a 94-80 lead by the end of the third quarter. Jokic was all over the court during the quarter, scoring 10 points, earning six assists, and four rebounds.
Solid shooting from LaMelo Ball, P.J. Washington, and Kelly Oubre Jr. helped the Hornets inch close to a comeback in the fourth quarter. The Hornets went on a 12-5 run with six minutes remaining to pull within three points but Denver slowly kept their head above water.
With under 30 seconds left in the game, Ball made it a three-point game and the Hornets quickly fouled Denver for a last-ditch effort. Jokic went to the line and made just one of his free throw attempts, making the margin four points.
Washington dunked to bring the score to 117-115 with 13 seconds remaining, but the Hornets ran out of time to pull off the comeback and ultimately lost 119-115.
Jokic's 40-27-10 stat line is the first time someone has pulled off a 35-25-10 stat line since Wilt Chamberlain in 1968. Calwell-Pope followed up Jokic with 20 points.
Ball scored an impressive 31 points against Denver, the most points for him on the season in his third game back returning from injury. Oubre was the second-highest-scoring Hornet with 16 points. Gordon Hayward earned his first double-double of the season with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
The Hornets have spiraled to 7-23 and continue to hold the worst record in the NBA. Sunday's loss is Charlotte's eighth in a row, their longest losing streak since January 2020.
Charlotte's last win came in a slim 117-116 victory over the Washington Wizards on Dec. 2.
Denver continues to be one of the Western Conference's better teams and holds an 18-11 record after Sunday's win.
The Hornets' next game is on Monday against the Sacramento Kings on the road.