Hornets sting Nuggs in OT, 114-112
DENVER ” Desmond Mason scored 23 points, including a putback at the overtime buzzer to give the New Orleans Hornets a wild 114-112 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night.
J.R. Smith, who shot only 3-of-13 against his former team, had tied it at 112 with a 3-pointer with 17 seconds left.
The Hornets, who ruined Allen Iverson’s return from a four-game absence, never led in regulation, which ended with Carmelo Anthony tying up Chris Paul on his way to the basket at the buzzer.
Anthony, who scored 27 points, had thrown up an airball with 2.9 seconds left in regulation and the game tied at 103.
Paul gave the Hornets their first lead with a 3-pointer 26 seconds into overtime, and they didn’t trail again. Paul’s short jumper with less than a second remaining was blocked by Anthony, and Mason put it back in as time expired.
Iverson added 22 points and Nene 18 for the Nuggets, who blew a 10-point lead in the final minutes of the fourth quarter and lost for the seventh time in eight games.
The Hornets won for the 13th time in their last 15 road games behind a balanced attack in which six players scored in double figures, including David West and Devin Brown with 17 points apiece.
During breaks, Iverson iced his sprained right ankle on the bench, where Marcus Camby was in street clothes for the second straight game with a strained groin.
On the eve of the game, Nuggets coach George Karl said he thought he’d have a hard time keeping Smith from getting too excited about facing the team that gave up on him last summer.
He was right to be concerned: Smith missed his first eight shots, including consecutive airballs, before scoring his first basket with 10:19 left in the game. He finished with just nine points.
Smith clashed regularly with Hornets coach Byron Scott last season before being dealt to Chicago and then to Denver in the offseason.
In the days leading up to the game, Smith kept his disdain for his former team to himself, while Scott spoke freely about their ruined relationship, saying Smith ignored his advice and was inconsistent in his desire and determination.
“He would do it for one day and then he wouldn’t do it again. I’m trying to help a young man develop and he didn’t want to,” Scott lamented. “He wanted to play his way, which was just shoot 3s and see how many dunks he could get.”
That style and Smith’s athleticism fit right into the Nuggets’ up-tempo game. Still, Karl said he, too, would like to see Smith work harder on defense, quit arguing over calls and stop moping when he comes out.
Smith missed all seven of his first-half shots and had just one point at halftime, when the Nuggets led 56-51. Bobby Jackson’s 3-pointer and Brown’s three-point play over the final 30 seconds trimmed what had been a double-digit lead for Denver.
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