Nuggets 94, Hornets 93

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NEW ORLEANS (AP)—Kenyon Martin had just been ejected, the Denver Nuggets’ deficit was growing and the howling New Orleans crowd was on its feet.

That’s when Carmelo Anthony and Marcus Camby huddled their team together for a pep talk.

“We were a little rattled, so we had to get everybody together and just tell them, ‘Look, let’s cut the lead down and we’ll fight back from there,”’ Anthony said. “Somebody had to get it going out there.”

The strategy worked. The Nuggets dominated the final 10 minutes to erase an 11-point deficit and beat the Hornets 94-93 on Sunday night.

Anthony scored 17 of his game-high 31 points in the fourth quarter, while Camby had three of his seven blocks, three of his 10 rebounds and a steal during that final stretch.

Anthony hit all 14 free throws he took, 10 in the final period, and grabbed 10 rebounds.

Earl Boykins scored 16 points, hitting all six of his free throws— including two with 4.6 seconds left to ice the game for Denver, which finished the game on a 15-7 run.

Dan Dickau hit a meaningless 3 at the buzzer and led New Orleans with 22 points, but he also accounted for one of what turned out to be three critical missed free throws by the Hornets in the fourth quarter.

The Nuggets shot 33-of-36 from the foul line, while the Hornets finished 19-of-24. Denver also outscored New Orleans 25-2 on fast breaks while forcing 24 Hornets turnovers—the third straight time a Nuggets opponent had committed at least 20.

Hornets coach Byron Scott, who often stresses fundamentals like transition defense and protecting the ball to his young, rebuilding squad, said he was disappointed to see the Hornets fail in both areas.

“We lose this game by one point,” Scott said. “All of the things we talk about and all of the things we work on in practice—they have to start registering. It is very important for us as a team to understand that we don’t have that big of a margin for error.”

Martin had scored 12 points for Denver, including a pair of alley-oop dunks, when his repeated bickering with officials got him called for a second technical foul, resulting in his ejection.

Casey Jacobsen made the technical free throw, then Bostjan Nachbar hit a 3-pointer to give New Orleans its largest lead of the game at 78-67 with 10:12 left.

“When K-Mart got ejected, I told the team that, ‘We can do this, just like we did it the other night”’ in an overtime victory at Memphis, Camby said. “Then Melo got hot and really was the difference for us.”

Anthony, who was only 5-of-15 from the field through three quarters, hit three of his next four shots, including a 3-pointer, and added four free throws to help Denver tie the game at 86 with 3:34 to go.

“Thank God for 48-minute games,” said Denver coach George Karl, now 10-4 since taking over for Jeff Bzdelik, who was fired Dec. 28. “In basketball, you can win a lot of ways and we’re showing that. Our offense was not good until the fourth quarter.”

After rookie Jackson Vroman, making his first start for New Orleans, scored inside and later hit a free throw to put the Hornets ahead by three, Anthony made four consecutive free throws to give Denver its first lead since early in the second quarter.

Dickau tied the game by making one of two free throws. Then Claxton appeared to give the Hornets the lead when he drew contact and made a driving layup. It was first ruled a defensive foul, but official Courtney Kirkland overturned the call to a charge, leaving the score tied.

Bryon Russell then drove the baseline, nearly losing his balance, but was able to face the hoop underneath and put in a close-range shot to give Denver a 92-90 lead.

Russell and Andre Miller both finished with 12 points.

Jacobsen scored 15, while fellow Hornets reserve Chris Andersen had 12 points and 10 rebounds. Nachbar finished with 11.

Jacobsen score 13 consecutive Hornets points in the first half, hitting both 3-pointers he took to help New Orleans open a lead that got as large as 41-33 after J.R. Smith’s 3-pointer.

Denver called timeout and came back with a 13-5 run that opened with Martin’s soaring one-handed jam on an alley-oop pass from Camby. Anthony added a strong inside basket and a pair of free throws to cut it to 46-44.

Dickau broke the run with a jumper and the Hornets took a 50-44 lead into halftime.


Claxton, acquired in a trade that sent Baron Davis to Golden State, saw his first playing time with the Hornets with 3:19 left in the first quarter. He became the eighth different player at point guard for New Orleans this season and had five points. … Camby’s fourth rebound, which came in the first half, gave him 4,000 for his career. … Boykins has scored in double figures in 16 of 17 games and has made 126 of his last 130 free throws.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
C. Anthony C. Anthony
8-20,  31 Pts
10 Rebs, 2 Assists
 New Orleans
S. Claxton S. Claxton
1-5,  5 Pts
4 Rebs, 8 Assists

Team Stat Leaders