Carmelo Anthony scored 29 points and the Denver Nuggets beat New Orleans 101-88 on Wednesday night, snapping the Hornets' three-game winning streak.
Chauncey Billups scored 26 points, hitting four of his five 3-pointers in the second half to help the Nuggets pull away after the game was tied with a little over 7 minutes to go in the third quarter.
Chris Paul had 19 points and 13 assists, and David West scored 18 points for New Orleans (44-26), which dropped a game behind Denver (46-26) in the Western Conference standings.
The score was tied at 55 when Anthony scored six quick points on two free throws and a pair of transition jumpers. The flurry began a 17-6 run that lasted late into the third quarter, putting Denver up 72-61. Billups drained his third 3 of the game during the spurt, while Kenyon Martin dunked and J.R. Smith converted a tough driving layup into a crowd.
Billups added two more 3s and a mid-range jumper early the fourth quarter. Then Smith, a former Hornets first-round draft choice, nailed a 3 to give Denver a 94-73 lead with 7:38 left.
Fans began getting up and heading for the exits, while one yelled, "you never should have let him go," in an apparent reference to Smith, who had 16 points.
Hilton Armstrong and Rasual Butler each scored 10 points for New Orleans, which played an unusually sloppy game. Paul turned the ball over six times, and Denver wound up converting 19 Hornets turnovers into 18 points.
In the second half, Anthony and Billups combined for 33 points.
Anthony started quickly, scoring Denver's first four points of the game on a jumper and a dunk. He had 13 points in the first quarter alone, with his 3-pointer giving Denver a 24-14 lead.
Smith's 3-pointer to open the second quarter gave Denver a 31-21 lead. Then the Hornets clawed back into the game with mostly reserves on the floor and Chris Paul on the bench. Morris Peterson's 3 ignited a 12-2 run, capped by Antonio Daniels' 3-pointer, which tied the game at 33.
New Orleans briefly took a 44-43 lead on Julian Wright's three-point play, a fast-break underhanded flip off the glass as he was being held by Anthony Carter. Billups responded with his first 3-pointer of the game, and Denver led 46-45 at halftime.
Notes:@ Hornets C Tyson Chandler (left ankle) missed his fourth straight game, while swingman Peja Stojakovic (back) missed his 11th straight game. ... Denver won for only the second time in its last nine road games, improving to 19-18 away from home. ... New Orleans lost only its third home game in its last 13. ... The Nuggets are 46-26, the best record through 72 games since the Nuggets joined the NBA. ... This was the fourth and final meeting of the regular season between New Orleans and Denver, who finished with a 2-2 split.
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