Mason leads Hornets past Nuggets
Denver, CO (Sports Network) – Desmond Mason poured in 26 points and pulled
down seven rebounds, as the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets topped Denver,
102-95, at the Pepsi Center.
Six players scored in double figures for the Hornets, who have won three of
their last four games.
Reserve guard Speedy Claxton had 19 points, J.R. Smith added 16 points and
five assists, and Chris Paul came just short of a double-double with 10 points
and nine assists.
“We knew this was a winnable game for us. I knew I needed to come in and have
a good game,” Claxton said.
Andre Miller led all scorers with a season-high 33 points for Denver, which
has dropped two straight.
The Nuggets were playing without star Carmelo Anthony, who injured his ankle
on Monday against New Jersey.
Denver was also without head coach George Karl, who was suspended for two
games after vehemently criticizing the officiating following Denver’s 101-92
loss to the New Jersey Nets on Monday night.
Assistant coach Scott Brooks took over the reins for this game and will also
be in charge for Friday’s contest at Phoenix.
Marcus Camby picked up 16 points, 16 rebounds and eight blocks, while Earl
Boykins contributed nine points and 12 assists off the bench.
The Hornets outscored Denver 31-26 in the second quarter to erase a four-point
deficit and assume a 55-54 halftime lead.
Their offensive surge continued in the third stanza, as the Hornets put up 27
points to build their advantage to five points.
Denver cut the lead to four with just over four minutes to play on a Miller
layup, but Mason hit a jumper and Claxton followed with a fadeaway from
the baseline seconds later to make it a 96-88 game.
“His comfort level was good, and obviously his confidence was great,” said
Hornets head coach Byron Scott of Mason.
The Nuggets put together one last surge. Miller hit a jump shot with 1:52
remaining, then tipped in a shot with 47 seconds left to pull Denver to within
Denver then forced New Orleans/Oklahoma City into a bad shot on the defensive
end, but the Hornets grabbed the rebound. Paul was immediately fouled, and the
point guard hit both free throws to push the lead back up to five with 17
The Hornets were able to hold Denver off from there.
Hornets forward Bostjan Nachbar, who entered the game as questionable with a
sprained left knee, did not play…Denver is 6-2 in its building this
season…New Orleans/Oklahoma City, which wrapped up a three-game road trip,
is 4-4 away from home this season…New Orleans/Oklahoma City had lost five of
its last seven and 10 of its last 15 in Denver before Wednesday.