Mar 25, 2013 11:47 PM by AP
Ryan Anderson scored 23 points, Brian Roberts doubled his career high with 18 assists and the short-handed New Orleans Hornets beat Denver 110-86 on Monday night, ending the Nuggets' 15-game win streak.
New Orleans, playing without its starting backcourt of Eric Gordon and Greivis Vasquez, won its third in a row and was in control all the way. The Hornets led by nine at the end of the first quarter, by 21 at the half and by 18 entering the fourth.
Roberts, a rookie making his second start, had 11 assists by halftime, two more than his previous best. Anderson was 5 of 11 on 3-pointers, and the Hornets sank 14-of-25 3s as seven players scored in double figures.
Danilo Gallinari had 24 points for the Nuggets, who were without starting point guard Ty Lawson (right heel injury) for the third consecutive game. Denver lost for the first time since Feb. 22 against Washington after matching its 1969-70 ABA team's record of 15 straight victories.
The Hornets answered every Nuggets run, the last of which closed the gap to 96-84 when Kenneth Faried hit a tough bank shot and was fouled with 6:07 left. New Orleans' Anthony Davis followed with two free throws, Darius Miller drained a face-up 3-pointer and Davis leaped high to jam in a rebound follow, extending the lead to 103-84.
The closest Denver came in the second half was 67-58 after a 16-4 spurt midway through the third quarter. But the Hornets' Roger Mason Jr. immediately hit back-to-back 3-pointers, and New Orleans was up by double digits the rest of the way.
This one was never close.
The Hornets went ahead 25-11 in the first quarter, getting back-to-back, wide-open 3-pointers from Anderson to cap the early run against the sluggish Nuggets. No one picked up Anderson, who led the NBA in 3-point baskets last season, when he shot from straightaway on the first one. Denver left him unguarded again as he made another 3 the next time down the court.
Denver never cut the deficit to fewer than eight points for the rest of the half, and Anderson responded to that mild run with another uncontested 3.
The Hornets responded to every Nuggets' challenge early. Right after Andre Iguodala slammed home an alley-oop, Al-Farouq Aminu dunked at the other end. When Gallinari sank his first 3-pointer, Anderson immediately hit his fourth 3.
New Orleans then stretched its lead to 59-38 with an 11-1 run to end the half. Denver's point total was only two more than its season low for the first half.
New Orleans scored 16 points off 10 Denver turnovers in the first half, while the Nuggets managed only three points off seven Hornets miscues.
Denver missed Lawson, who had averaged 21.8 points in his last 18 games, much more than New Orleans missed Vasquez or Gordon. Wilson Chandler returned for the Nuggets after missing two games with a left shoulder injury and finished with 11 points. Faried added 13 points.
Gordon, who is tied for the team lead in scoring with 16.5 points per game, sat out with a sore left ankle. Vasquez sat out with a sprained left ankle after starting the first 70 games.
NOTES: Nuggets reserve guard Julyan Stone left with a hyperextended right knee injury in the first half and did not return. . The Hornets started a big week of home games. They face the Los Angeles Clippers and former New Orleans point guard Chris Paul on Wednesday, and the Miami Heat on Friday. The Heat extended their winning streak to 27, beating Orlando on Monday. . A sign of the Nuggets' lack of aggressiveness: They picked up their first foul in the second quarter at the 3:49 mark and their first foul of the third quarter with 3:08 left.
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