Hornets Win Over Shorthanded Nuggets
New Orleans/Oklahoma City 102, Denver 95
DENVER, Nov. 30 (Ticker) -- Desmond Mason came up with a big second half against the Denver Nuggets, who were missing both their on- and off-court leaders.
Mason scored 21 of his season-high 26 points after intermission as the improved New Orleans Hornets posted a 102-95 victory over the Nuggets, who have lost two straight home games.
"We knew we had to take advantage of the situation," Mason said. "Not taking anything away from Coach Karl or Carmelo, but we felt we could win this game regardless. The way we played showed the character of this team."
Nuggets assistant Scott Brooks, who also guided the team when Karl was suspended for the first two games of the season, admitted that not having Anthony in the lineup as a huge void to fill.
"Carmelo makes the job as coach a lot easier," he said. "We've all seen him play. I don't want to use that as the reason we didn't win, though. We had a couple of bad stretches tonight."
Denver was able to build a nine-point lead in the first half with the help of 19 fast-break points. However, the team was limited to just six in the second half, which allowed the visitors to surge ahead.
Mason, who scored 12 points in the third period, gave the Hornets the lead for good when he snapped a 77-77 tie with a runner with 33 seconds left.
"Coach (Byron Scott) gave me the opportunity tonight and I got into a rhythm," Mason said. "It feels really good to get this game under our belts. I'm looking forward to a few more."
"Mason played unbelievable tonight," Hornets guard Speedy Claxton said. "He gave us a big lift."
Claxton added 19 points and six assists for the Hornets, who won for the seventh time overall this season and the fourth time on the road. In their disastrous 2004-05 campaign, the Hornets did not win their seventh game until January 22 and did not claim their fourth road win until March 22.
"I know my role and try to do it every night," Claxton said. "This has been a great road trip for us. We are improving day by day and hopefully we continue to learn."
"We're headed in the right direction and that is what I like," Scott said. "We are a young team and we're just going to keep working."
Andre Miller scored a season-high 33 points and Marcus Camby added 16 and 16 rebounds for Denver, who did not have another player score in double figures.
"We need to find a way to win," Camby said. "The last two games we didn't play particularly well. New Orleans took the game from us. They played well down the stretch and we didn't hit any shots."