New Orleans (20-10) came within a minute of pulling off what would have been the largest comeback in franchise history. Ultimately, the Hornets momentous second-half rally came up tantalizingly short.
Denver (23-12) built a lead of as many as 26 points in the third quarter, but New Orleans rallied all the way back to go in front 100-99, on yet another clutch three-point basket by James Posey. Posey's shot came with 1:10 left in regulation. From there though, the Nuggets tallied the game's final six points. Carmelo Anthony answered Posey's trey with a drive and close-range basket, and the Nuggets converted four late free throws.
New Orleans had a chance to potentially tie the game after Nene missed a pair of free throws, trailing by three with about 20 seconds to go, but Hilton Armstrong's outlet pass resulted in a turnover. It appeared as though Armstrong was trying to outlet to Chris Paul, but David West deflected the pass, directing it into the Nuggets' hands.
The Hornets have never come back to win a game in the 21-year history of the team when trailing by more than 22 points. That record has stood since November 1995, when the Hornets came back from 22 down to win in Boston.
Other developments from the Pepsi Center:
Armstrong, who received the starting nod after Tyson Chandler was suspended one game for his altercation with Joel Przybilla, tied a career-high with 17 points. He racked up 11 points in the first six minutes of the first quarter, and for the first time in his three-year pro career, the Hornets fed him the ball repeatedly in the low post. It was easily the best stretch of offensive production hes had in a regular season game since joining the team in 2006-07.
Paul took over the game for a second straight night in the second half, piling up 19 second-half points en route to a 30-point performance. On the negative side, he committed seven turnovers.
Byron Scott essentially shortened his rotation with Chandler unavailable. Although nine players got on the court for the Hornets, two guys were used very sparingly. Morris Peterson only logged eight minutes, while Sean Marks received four minutes. Overall, the bench was 4-for-16 from the field. Posey delivered two big three-pointers in the fourth quarter, after missing his first eight shots. As a result, West, Paul and Peja Stojakovic all played 40 minutes in the second night of a back-to-back set.