NEW ORLEANS — Against all odds, the Hornets did the unthinkable.
Without Eric Gordon and without Greivis Vasquez, New Orleans ended Denver’s 15-game win streak 110-86 thanks to a trio of rookies and outside marksmanship.
Brian Roberts scored 13 points and dished a career-high 18 assists, Darius Miller had a career-high 16 points and Anthony Davis had 14 points and six rebounds as the Hornets (25-46) rolled over the Nuggets.
The Hornets went 14-for-25 from 3-point range, led by Ryan Anderson's 5 treys on his way to a team-high 23 points.
“When you lose Greivis and Eric and you’re already missing Jason (Smith) and Austin (Rivers), it’s pretty bleak when you look at it on paper,” Hornets coach Monty Williams said.
“We always talk about competing every night because you never know. Some guys step up and have career nights against a team that’s playing better than anybody except for Miami.”
And now the Hornets have a three-game winning streak, all victories coming over playoff-bound teams no less. That’s a first this season for New Orleans, which has strung together three consecutive wins only one other time.
It won’t get easier, not with the Clippers coming to town Wednesday night and the Heat hitting the New Orleans Arena on Friday.
But if New Orleans can put together what it did against Denver (49-23), the win streak could get longer.
The Hornets scored 22 points on 14 Nuggets turnovers, outrebounded Denver by 12 and tied a season-high with 10 blocked shots.
New Orleans outscored the Nuggets 44-38 in the paint, doing to Denver what it usually does to opponents – the team from the Mile High city leads the NBA in the paint, averaging 57.9 points there this season.
“We shot poorly and we turned it over in the first half an obnoxious number of times,” Denver coach George Karl said. “We didn’t have any pace and they had a lot of pace, and I think that helped their confidence and it helped their energy.”
The Nuggets took a 2-0 lead when Kosta Koufas put back and Andre Miller miss.
It was the only time New Orleans trailed all night.
After Miller pulled the Nuggets to within 10-8 with 6:55 to play in the first quarter, New Orleans went on a 15-3 run in the next three minutes.
Robin Lopez converted a layup, Ryan Anderson stole a pass and the Hornets’ Miller sank a 3-pointer.
After two Denver free throws, Roberts sank a long-range jumper. Andre Miller’s free-throw only briefly halted the run.
Roberts hit a floater, Anderson drilled back-to-back 3-pointers and the Hornets never led by fewer than eight points the rest of the game.
“I think we really shared the ball tonight,” Darius Miller said. “We just tried to out play them and play hard. We came out and hit them first today and that was the difference.”
Roberts, meanwhile, set a season-high for Hornet with his 18 assists and became the first rookie with as many dishes since Darren Collison did it in 2010.
“I had no clue I had that many,” Roberts said. “I knew it was stacking up a little bit. Guys were making shots. It’s pretty easy when you’re hitting guys and they’re making shots. It’s a good feeling.”
Not that it truly surprised Williams.
“He was really aware of the guys being open tonight – he had 18 assists,” the coach said. “It doesn’t happen if he doesn’t work hard – and, he works his tail off.”