NEW ORLEANS (AP)—Carmelo Anthony scored 28 points and reserve Greg Buckner capped a 19-point performance with a pair of key 3-pointers to help the Denver Nuggets beat the New Orleans Hornets 109-94 on Saturday night.
Just as they’ve returned to New Orleans, playing before enthusiastic sellout crowds, the Hornets have ceased to look like a playoff team. The Hornets have lost a season-high eight straight games.
David West had 24 points and eight rebounds for New Orleans but got little help until it was too late.
New Orleans’ shooting percentage did not climb above 40 percent until the fourth quarter, which began with the Nuggets leading by 18 points.
New Orleans trimmed its deficit to 11 with just over three minutes to go. Then Buckner made 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to give Denver a 105-88 lead with 2:14 left.
Kenyon Martin and Andre Miller each scored 17 points for Denver, while Reggie Evans grabbed 16 rebounds. The Nuggets constantly sought to push the ball up the floor quickly off of defensive rebounds and finished with a 19-8 advantage on fast-break points.
Chris Paul had 11 points and 10 assists for New Orleans, which earlier this season appeared headed for a surprise playoff berth. Now the Hornets are 31-33, 1 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Anthony had 16 points in the first quarter to help the Nuggets jump out to a 34-16 lead. It could have been worse for New Orleans if not for West, who had 10 points in the period. He was 5-for-7 while the rest of the team was only 2-for-16 (12.5 percent) during the quarter.
Other than West, the Hornets continued to struggle getting open and making shots in the second quarter, finishing the half at 35.6 percent shooting.
Denver led 58-42 at the half.
Marcus Camby, who left Friday night’s game in Memphis with a strained left knee, did not play against New Orleans. … Denver closed out a seven-game road trip at 5-2. … The Hornets’ losing streak is currently the worst in the NBA. Minnesota, which has lost seven straight, was idle on Saturday. … Team owner George Shinn said he has been encouraged by ticket sales for the three games in New Orleans, with the first two games selling out. The last game in New Orleans is Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers. “If we sell out that game. That’s a loud message,” Shinn said. He said the team plans to contact many of those who bought tickets in an effort to gage the franchise’s chances for box office success when the Hornets are slated to return to the city full time for the 2007-08 season. “We’re just trying to find out if these people are serious or not.”