NEW ORLEANS - Carmelo Anthony scored 28 points and reserve Greg Buckner capped a 19-point performance with a pair of game-sealing 3-pointers Saturday night to help the Denver Nuggets beat the Hornets 109-94. New Orleans has lost a season-high eight straight games, including the only other game played in New Orleans — March 8 against the Los Angeles Lakers. “I was very pleased with the crowd. I just hate that we couldn’t give them a better showing,” Hornets guard Chris Paul said. “We’re so much better than we showed the two times that we played out here.” David West had 24 points and eight rebounds for New Orleans but got little help until it was too late. New Orleans’ shooting percentage did not climb above 40 percent until the fourth quarter, which began with the Nuggets leading by 18 points. The Hornets, who never led, trimmed their deficit to 11 with just over three minutes to go. Then Buckner made 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to give Denver a 105-88 lead with 2:14 left. Kenyon Martin and Andre Miller each scored 17 points for Denver, while Reggie Evans grabbed 16 rebounds. The Nuggets constantly sought to push the ball up the floor quickly off defensive rebounds and finished with a 19-8 advantage on fast-break points. It all left Denver, which finished a seven-game road trip at 5-2, feeling very confident as the playoffs approach — especially since they won comfortably without Marcus Camby. He sat out after straining his left knee a night earlier in Memphis. “That’s the most impressive thing about this road trip, not knowing who’s going to play every night, then win five out of seven. That shows the maturity of this ball club,” Martin said. “A couple of months ago . . . we probably would have been 2-5. Guys are growing up.” Paul had 11 points and 10 assists for New Orleans, which earlier this season appeared headed for a surprise playoff berth. Now the Hornets are 31-33, 1½ games behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. “I don’t know how we’re looking at the rest of the season, but it’s mind-boggling to me that we don’t understand that we have to come out like we are in a dogfight,” Hornets coach Byron Scott said. “We are just so soft in the beginning of games it’s incredible. With the talent we have, we can’t play hard for 36 minutes. It’s not good enough.” Anthony had 16 points in the first quarter to help the Nuggets jump out to a 34-16 lead. It could have been worse for New Orleans if not for West, who had 10 points in the period. He was 5 for 7 while the rest of the team was only 2 for 16 (12.5 percent) during the quarter. Other than West, the Hornets continued to struggle getting open and making shots in the second quarter, finishing the half at 35.6 percent shooting. Denver led 58-42 at the half. “We played with a pretty intense, constant rhythm the whole seven games,” Denver coach George Karl said. “It’s going to be something, hopefully, that we can build on and get stronger. The energy in the first quarter got us confident enough. . . . Our start sort of flattened them a little bit.” The Hornets’ losing streak is currently the worst in the NBA. NEXT San Antonio at Denver, 8:30 p.m., Wednesday, Altitude/ESPN, 1300/710AM
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