Nuggets 105, Hornets 100

By: AP
By: AP

Carmelo Anthony scored 22 points, including a layup with 56.5 seconds left, and the Denver Nuggets blew a 26-point third quarter lead before recovering to beat the New Orleans Hornets 105-100 on Saturday night.

J.R. Smith scored 11 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter for Denver.

Chris Paul had 30 points and 11 assists, and David West had 21 points for the Hornets, who had their four-game winning streak snapped.

The Nuggets led 77-51 midway through the third quarter before New Orleans rallied. The Hornets outscored the Nuggets 20-6 to end the third, then scored the first nine points of the fourth to cut it 83-80 with 9:31 left.

Smith gave the Nuggets breathing room with a fast-break layup and a 3-pointer that made it 88-80 with 8:08 left, but Peja Stojakovic's fourth 3-pointer of the night tied it at 94 with 4:11 left. Chauncey Billups' two free throws gave the Nuggets a 96-94 lead, but Paul's 13-foot jumper with 2:42 left tied it at 97.

Smith hit two free throws to give Denver a two-point lead, but James Posey hit a 3-pointer with 1:10 remaining to give the Hornets a 100-99 lead, their only advantage of the game. Anthony followed with a driving layup and, after a loose-ball foul on Armstrong, Billups hit two foul shots to give the Nuggets a 103-100 lead with 38.7 seconds left.

Billups hit two more free throws with 22 seconds left to seal the win.

Six players scored in double figures for the Nuggets, who have won five of their last six.

The Hornets played without center Tyson Chandler, suspended for one game for an altercation with Portland's Joel Pryzbilla on Friday night. Hilton Armstrong started in place of Chandler and had 17 points

Billups scored five quick points to give Denver a 65-42 lead early in the third quarter, and Martin's layup gave the Nuggets their biggest lead at 77-51 with 5:52 left in the third.

Notes:@ Hornets F Melvin Ely sat out with a sore right ankle. ... West has scored 20 or more points in four of his last five games. ... The Nuggets are 22-9 since acquiring Billups from Detroit on Nov. 3.


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