Lawson had 23 points and 10 assists, and the Denver Nuggets combined for 17 3-pointers in a 114-103 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Monday night.
"I've got to give a lot of credit to our guys, especially the point guards for penetrating and kicking it out, finding the open man, just sharing the ball," said Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler, who hit all four of his 3s in the third quarter, the last of which gave Denver a 23-point lead at 91-68. "When you've got point guards like that, that makes your shot selection easy. When you're wide open, confidence goes up."
Raymond Felton added 22 points, hitting six 3s for Denver, while J.R. Smith hit five 3s and finished with 18 points and Chandler had 21 points. Lawson routinely sliced into the interior of the Hornets' defense, from there he seemed able to score or find an open teammate with equal effectiveness. He hit eight of his 13 shots, including a pair of 3s.
Denver shot 53.3 percent (40 of 75) overall and were even better from 3-point range, going 17 of 29 (56.6 percent)
The Nuggets were just short of the season high of 18 3s, which they set one game earlier in a 131-101 victory over Detroit. Still, Denver's total from deep was more than New Orleans had allowed in any game this season, and Hornets coach Monty Williams said his players could not help but be a little rattled by the Nuggets' accuracy from deep.
"When you see that ball go through the hole 17 times from the 3, it tends to mess with your psyche a little bit," Williams said. "It was just one of those games that you have in the NBA where a team comes out and they just shoot the ball better than you've ever seen them before. ... Our guys fought tonight. We just didn't have enough to overcome that many 3s."
The Hornets, a team built around defense that came in allowing 92.7 points per game, had not given up 114 points in a game all season, the most previously being 113 in a loss at Minnesota on Dec. 27.
The defense that Kenyon Martin played against David West made it even harder for the Hornets to keep pace. West, who averages nearly 19 points per game, was held to only six points on 2 of 9 shooting in a little more than 31 minutes and did not play in the fourth quarter.
"We just wanted to be aware of his touches, and Kenyon does a good job of stopping him in post-ups," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "We made some good reads rotating to him, making sure him and Paul didn't have a good two-man game."
The Hornets still managed to shoot 47.1 percent (40 of 85) for one of their higher point totals of the season, but it was not nearly enough against Denver, which made 7 of 9 3-point attempts in the third quarter alone, when Chandler hit all four of his and Felton added three from deep.
The Nuggets outscored the Hornets 36-30 in the third quarter to take a 94-75 lead into the final period and the Hornets never got closer than 11 after that.
The Hornets led by nine points early in the first quarter, but the Nuggets quickly responded with an 11-2 run during which Chandler scored six points on a floater, layup and two free throws.
Denver led by 23-21 by the end of the first quarter and then scored 35 points in the second quarter alone, sparked by a pair of 3s by Smith and strong play inside by Chris Andersen, who had nine points in the first half.
Denver led 55-40 when Lawson scored on a fast-break as he was fouled, and after the Hornets trimmed their deficit to 10, Lawson banked in a running 3 at the horn to give Denver a 58-45 halftime lead.
Gary Forbes started for Arron Afflalo, who has missed three straight games with a strained left hamstring. Forbes played only 5:42, however, and finished with two points. ... The Hornets fell to 1-13 when allowing 10 or more 3-pointers. ... Paul's point total was his second-highest of the season, one game after his season-high 33 in a victory over Sacramento on Saturday. ... The Hornets feel to 23-10 at home. The Nuggets improved to 13-20 on the road, where they play their next three games.
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