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Hornets.com postgame: Hornets 110, Nuggets 86

By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer

Hornets (25-46), Nuggets (49-23)

It was over when… Anthony Davis soared over the Denver defense, throwing down a highlight-reel putback dunk to give New Orleans a 103-84 lead with roughly three minutes remaining. In what will be viewed around the league as a stunning result, the Hornets ended the Nuggets’ 15-game winning streak in blowout fashion. New Orleans did so without either member of its starting backcourt, with both Greivis Vasquez and Eric Gordon ruled out of being able to play earlier in the day Monday. All of the sudden, the Hornets are playing some of their best basketball of the season, now winners of three straight, all against 2013 playoff teams (Boston, Memphis, Denver). 

Hornets MVP: To say that Brian Roberts capitalized on his second career NBA start would be a vast understatement. The 27-year-old rookie handed out an eye-popping 18 assists, the most by any first-year player in the league this season (Portland Rookie of the Year frontrunner Damian Lillard’s high is 12, for comparison’s sake). It also topped any Hornets player’s production in a game throughout all of 2012-13. “It felt great to be out there and perform that well,” Roberts said afterward of his emergency start for Greivis Vasquez (ankle). “But the main thing is we got the win. I didn’t know how many assists I had. At the end of the game, someone told me. I couldn’t believe it, really. It’s a testament to the guys on the team. They were making shots. I was just finding guys. It makes my job easier.” 

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Tough not to go with Ryan Anderson’s 23-point, nine-rebound performance (including five treys), but under the circumstances, let’s give the nod to Roger Mason, who was superb in his 28 minutes of playing time. Pressed into perhaps a great role than expected due to Eric Gordon (ankle) being a late scratch (which elevated Darius Miller to starting shooting guard), Mason responded with a critical 14 points. The team’s most experienced NBA player has played extremely well after a slow start in November and December, and again delivered timely shooting (4-for-5 from three-point range), despite having some recent games where he doesn’t play a lot. 

The buzz on… New Orleans’ best week of the season. The Hornets had a four-game winning streak in January, but two of those victories came against opponents who either won’t make the playoffs (Minnesota) or only has a distant chance of qualifying (Dallas). Other than that four-gamer, this is the first time in 2012-13 that New Orleans has won as many as three games in a row. From the coaching staff’s perspective, undoubtedly the best aspect of the past six days has been holding Boston, Memphis and Denver to just 86, 83 and 86 points, respectively. “We know that we’re better than our record,” Anderson said in the victorious postgame locker room. “These are teams that are hungry and obviously want to make big playoff runs. This is their time when they want to play their best basketball. They need wins. For us, a lot of teams could just lay down and say, ‘Well, we’re not going to the playoffs.’ But we’re hungry. We work too hard. We have so many young, talented guys. We just want to prove ourselves.”