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Iguodala, Nuggets send Hornets to seventh straight loss

The SportsXchange

DENVER -- Andre Iguodala grew up watching Scottie Pippen, and Sunday he paid homage with a strong all-around performance against the New Orleans Hornets.

That worked out pretty well for Iguodala and the Denver Nuggets.

Iguodala scored 23 points, Ty Lawson had 17 -- nine in a decisive run in the third quarter -- and Denver routed the Hornets 102-84 on Sunday night.

Kenneth Faried had 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Nuggets, who have won four straight.

It was Faried's eighth double-double of the season.

Iguodala has certainly turned it up on offense lately -- he's averaging 23.3 points in his last three games -- but his defense has been just as important. Sunday he helped shut down point guard Greivis Vasquez by borrowing a page from Pippen's playbook.

"Tonight was like a typical Scottie Pippen night. Defend the point guard, pressure him up the floor full court and try to create havoc while being a force on the offensive end as well," Iguodala said. "I watched him so much when I was growing up, it was kind of like that. I kind of had that in mind coming into the game."

Vasquez had scored in double figures in his previous four games and registered career highs in points (25) and assists (14) Friday night but was negated Sunday. He finished with six points and six assists in 25 minutes.

"Iguodala was not only great offensively, his defensive pressure on Vasquez was probably the key to the game," Nuggets coach George Karl said.

Rookie Brian Roberts led the Hornets with 17 points off the bench and Ryan Anderson had 16, all in the first half.

New Orleans has lost seven straight.

"Not any good things to take from a game like this," Hornets coach Monty Williams said.

"The NBA is a cruel league. They try to embarrass you every night and that's what you saw tonight."

For the third straight game the Nuggets came out strong to start the second half. Sunday they used a 15-4 run to stretch a 10-point lead to 62-45 three minutes into the third quarter. The lead grew to 69-48 on Iguodala's 3-pointer before Lawson's spurt put it away.

He stole the ensuing inbound pass for a layup, hit a 12-foot jumper and had a fastbreak layup and free throw. He finished his solo run with a 19-foot jumper from the top of the circle to give the Nuggets a 78-50 lead.

"That's a point we wanted to step on their neck, make sure they didn't have a chance to make a late-game run," Lawson said.

About the only thing that went wrong for Denver in the third quarter was Iguodala missing all three free throws after he was fouled on a 3-point attempt.

Iguodala and Lawson combined to go 16-for-23 from the field to pace Denver's 53-percent shooting. It was the fourth time they shot better than 50 percent this season and the first time they won doing so.

Trailing by 28, New Orleans scored seven straight points to get within 21 but never got close enough to threaten the Nuggets. Denver's starters sat the entire fourth quarter.

"We are just embarrassed," Vasquez said. "We didn't play well in the third quarter. We had a lot of deflections and I turned the ball over and they turned them into dunks."

The first half ended with the teams trading scoring runs. The Nuggets tried to take control early in the second when they went on a 14-2 run to go ahead 40-28. Andre Miller hit four free throws and Timofey Mozgov had a put-back layup to spark the surge.

The Hornets, who hadn't won since beating Charlotte on Nov. 9, came right back. Anderson drained consecutive 3-pointers, and Darius Miller and Robin Lopez had dunks to pull New Orleans within 40-38 with 3:34 left in the second quarter.

Kosta Koufas hit two free throws and Iguodala had a 3-pointer and a dunk to spark an 11-1 run for Denver.

Vasquez minimized the damage with a turnaround jumper at the buzzer that cut Denver's advantage to 51-41 at halftime.

Faried had the hot hand early, hitting all five of his shots and scoring 10 points in the first quarter. Iguodala had nine points in the first 15 minutes, 16 points at the break.

Anderson led the Hornets with 16 points through the first half.

NOTES: Hornets rookie forward Anthony Davis missed his fourth straight game with a stress reaction in his left ankle. ... Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler sat out his sixth straight game due to lingering issues with his surgically repaired left hip. He has not played since Nov. 12 against Phoenix. ... Hornets center Jason Smith played after sitting out most of Friday's loss against the Suns, when he was poked in the eye in the first minute and didn't return.
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