Hornets 97, Nuggets 91

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NEW ORLEANS (AP)—Jamaal Magloire gave the New Orleans Hornets an inside presence they desperately needed against the surging Denver Nuggets.

Magloire had 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Darrell Armstrong added 18 points and five steals to lead New Orleans to a 97-91 victory Friday night that snapped the Nuggets’ three-game winning streak.

“I’ve always said when we shy away from shooting 3s and go inside we’re a better team,” Magloire said. “Whenever we go inside, that opens everything up.”

After too many missed outside shots lately—including 4-of-20 3-point shooting in a loss Wednesday to Philadelphia—the Hornets relentlessly sought to get the ball inside.

New Orleans attempted only eight 3s (hitting three) and had seven dunks, five by Magloire. The Hornets shot 51 percent.

Forward P.J. Brown scored 16 and reserve forward Robert Traylor added 13.

Hornets coach Tim Floyd called the Hornets’ reduction in 3-pointers, and his team’s 27 free throw attempts (they hit 22), the telling statistics.

“What happened is our guys really stayed in the offense” instead of settling for outside shots, Floyd said.

Carmelo Anthony said the Nuggets did not expect as much inside scoring from New Orleans, which helped the Hornets build an 83-73 lead in the final period before Anthony led a Denver comeback that fell just short.

Anthony had eight of his 24 points in the final quarter as Denver pulled to 92-91 on a three-point play by Andre Miller. After a Hornets turnover, Nene had a chance to give Denver the lead but had his shot partially blocked by Brown. Augmon got the rebound and was fouled, hitting both free throws.

Anthony forced a 3-pointer that would have tied the game, but it was off the mark and Augmon went back to the line and hit one more free throw to seal the victory.

“Toward the end we competed, that’s why I can’t be mad and I don’t want my teammates to be mad,” Anthony said.

Miller scored 17 for Denver and Voshon Lenard 15. While Anthony was strong in the final period, he shot only 8-of-22 for the game. Marcus Camby had 12 points and 15 rebounds but was scoreless the final three periods.

New Orleans “is a team full of veteran guys who are physical and strong and experienced and full of pride and ability,” Nuggets coach Jeff Bzdelik said. “I fully expected a game like this and we came out on the short end of it.”

Steve Smith scored 11 points for New Orleans and Armstrong had nine assists. Brown’s points included a quick jumper off an inbound play with 1 second left on the shot clock to give the Hornets a 92-88 lead with less than 1:30 left.

Despite having their starting backcourt of Baron Davis (sprained left ankle) and David Wesley (sprained big left toe) out with injuries, the Hornets, led by Armstrong, played one of their best first halves of the season in jumping out to a 53-48 lead.

Armstrong had 13 points, seven assists and five rebounds in the half, not to mention a clean block from behind on Nene (who is 10 inches taller than the 6-1 Armstrong) to thwart a Nuggets fast break.

“We made sure we established an inside game. I wasn’t trying to put up too many 3s tonight, even though I still feel like I can hit them,” Armstrong said. “Sometimes you’ve got to do that. We can score with whoever’s on that floor, but we just got to make sure we play smart, and that’s what we didtonight.”

Notes

After playing only eight players Wednesday night, the Hornets had only nine payers available against Denver. Sean Rooks was back from a mild ankle sprain, but Davis, Wesley, David West (sore right knee) and Jamal Mashburn (right knee) remained out. Davis and Mashburn are expected to return sometime next week. … Traylor, who scored in double figures three times in the first 35 games, has reached 10 points or better six times in his last eight games …Denver is 9-8 against the Eastern Conference and 9-12 on the road.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Denver
M. Camby M. Camby
5-11,  12 Pts
15 Rebs, 1 Assists
 New Orleans
D. Armstrong D. Armstrong
8-12,  18 Pts
5 Rebs, 9 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists