Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 2)

Series starts 2/16

Game 1: Sunday, February 16th
Game 2: Friday, February 28th

Nuggets 92


Hornets 100

(28-26, 19-9 home)

    Coverage: FSRM

    6:00 PM ET, February 16, 2003

    Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA

    1 2 3 4 T
    DEN 20 23 24 2592
    NO 30 26 23 21100

    Top Performers

    Denver: J. Howard 25 Pts, 2 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Stl

    New Orleans: J. Mashburn 24 Pts, 4 Reb, 9 Ast, 1 Stl

    Mashburn, Hornets hold off Nuggets

    NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Jamal Mashburn led the New Orleans Hornets to a sizable early lead, then pulled his team out of a rut when the Denver Nuggets made a comeback bid.

    Mashburn had 24 points and nine assists in the Hornets' 100-92 victory Sunday night.

    He scored 12 in the first quarter as the Hornets built a double-digit lead they held for most of the game. After Denver closed to 89-84 with 5:20 left, Mashburn hit a fadeaway off a crossover dribble, then drew a crowd inside to set up George Lynch for an open 3-pointer that made it 96-86.

    "Sometimes we get too stagnant. You have to create off the dribble and people have to hit open shots,'' Mashburn said. "George hit a good one and I was happy for that.''

    All five Hornets starters scored in double figures as New Orleans ended a two-game skid and extended Denver's losing streak to five.

    David Wesley scored 20, and P.J. Brown, who missed the Hornets' loss in Minnesota on Friday, shot 5-of-7 for 16 points. He also had 11 rebounds in getting his team-leading 14th double-double of the season.

    Brown, who hit four mid-range jumpers, has noted lately that defenders have been leaving him open from that distance despite the fact he's shooting better than 53 percent, good for second in the league.

    "I hope nobody notices. I like to stay low profile. I'm a wallflower,'' Brown said. "Let's keep it hush-hush.''

    Jamal Magloire had 13 points and 10 rebounds and Lynch, getting his sixth straight start, finished with 11 as the Hornets shot nearly 54 percent.

    "This is a win you knew you were supposed to get,'' Wesley said. "They're not a great defensive team. You get better rhythm shots.''

    Juwan Howard led Denver with 25 points and scored 10 in the third quarter to keep Denver from getting blown out. Chris Whitney added 15 and Donnell Harvey 14 as the Nuggets lost their 12th straight road game and fell to 3-24 on the road overall.

    Denver coach Jeff Bzdelik indicated that his team's inexperience gives him little hope for victories against playoff-bound teams, and that he's simply looking for improved competitiveness.

    "This is a work in progress about our future, so who (cares) that we've lost so many games in a row. I don't care,'' Bzdelik said. "It's hard to win on the road. It's hard to win at home, and it's especially hard to win when you're playing teams with guys who've played more playoff games than many of our guys have played games. It's that simple.''

    The Nuggets' typically scrappy defense helped them stay in the game. Denver forced 20 turnovers while committing only 10, the latter figure a sharp improvement on their league-leading average of about 19.

    But Denver's shooting was inconsistent and at times ill-advised. The Nuggets were 1-of-11 from 3-point range.

    "When we got their lead down to single digits in the fourth quarter, that's special right there,'' Howard said. "But unfortunately we cut it down to five and then couldn't catch a break. George Lynch hit a 3 and that hurt us right there.''

    New Orleans used a 7-0 run to open up a 30-20 lead at the end of the first quarter, upping the lead to 44-29 after Robert Pack hit a pair of free throws in the second quarter.

    Denver cut the lead to 46-36 after Whitney hit a pair of free throws and Harvey finished a fast break with a jam. But Whitney then left Wesley open on consecutive possessions and Wesley hit 3-pointers on both, pushing the Hornets' lead to 52-38. New Orleans led 56-43 at halftime.

    Game notes

    Marcus Camby sat out with a right ankle sprain. Denver general manager Kiki Vandeweghe said Camby, who has played in only four games this season because of injuries, has generated the most interest among teams considering a trade with the Nuggets before Thursday's deadline. However, Vandeweghe expressed apprehension about dealing the seventh-year pro. "He's missed most of the season with injuries and I'd like to see him play a little,'' Vandeweghe said. Team officials said Camby was probable for Tuesday night's game at San Antonio. After that, Denver has only one more game -- Wednesday night at home against Minnesota -- to decide what to do with Camby, who is making $6.75 million this season, with one more guaranteed season and a player option for another. ... Reserve guard Courtney Alexander left the game in the second period with a left groin strain.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 92 100
    FGM-FGA 34-80 (.425) 37-69 (.536)
    3PM-3PA 1-11 (.091) 3-9 (.333)
    FTM-FTA 23-30 (.767) 23-28 (.821)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 11-31 10-41
    Assists 19 25
    Turnovers 10 20
    Steals 10 5
    Blocks 1 7
    Fast Break Points 8 2
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 25 (2/0) 26 (0/0)

    Top Performers

    New Orleans
    Juwan Howard Howard
    Points: 25
    Reb: 2
    Ast: 4
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0
    Jamal Mashburn Mashburn
    Points: 24
    Reb: 4
    Ast: 9
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0