96 - 87 Final
  for this game

Paul helps Hornets beat Nuggets

Jan 10, 2011 - 7:18 AM Denver, CO (Sports Network) - Chris Paul scored 20 points and dished out six assists, as the New Orleans Hornets took down the Denver Nuggets, 96-87, with trade rumors swirling in the Rocky Mountains.

Nuggets star forward Carmelo Anthony has been the source of trade talks for many months now, but things really picked up on Sunday night. A mega three- team deal is reportedly forming, and it would send Anthony to the Nets along with teammate Chauncey Billups. The Pistons are the other team involved in the reported trade that could be finalized this week.

Anthony struggled from the field Sunday, making 3-of-11 shots en route to eight points. Billups went 2-of-12 from the field and ended with 13 points for Denver, which has lost three in a row.

"I don't like to look at the stat sheets, but for me to only take 11 shots that is out of the norm for me," Anthony said. "Nobody should hang their heads. Everyone played together on the defensive end. We just couldn't make shots on the offensive end. Like I said, me personally I was a little too selfish and unselfish."

David West finished with 19 points, eight rebounds and five assists for the Hornets, who snapped a two-game skid. Trevor Ariza donated 12 points and seven rebounds.

The Hornets led by one, 23-22, after 12 minutes of action, and used a surge in the second quarter to create some distance.

Holding a 36-33 edge near the midway mark of the second, New Orleans ripped off seven straight points. Ariza's three-point play made it a 43-33 contest with less than four minutes remaining.

The margin reached 12 later in the period when Jason Smith made two free throws with 13.4 seconds left. The Hornets took a 54-43 lead into the locker room.

New Orleans then opened the second half on a 9-1 flurry. West tallied four points during the burst, which Ariza capped with a three-point play for a 63-44 margin.

The Hornets took a 78-66 lead into the fourth, which Jarrett Jack started with a three-pointer.

Denver, though, responded with a 17-5 run to make things interesting. Anthony Carter made a pair of three-pointers during the stretch, which J.R. Smith ended with a slam for an 86-83 game with 4:47 to play.

Holding an 88-85 edge moments later, West recorded a three-point play. Anthony missed a jumper at the other end, and Paul capitalized with a trey for a 94-85 lead.

The Nuggets never got closer than seven the rest of the way.

"We did a great job at weathering the storm," Paul said. "I went out with five fouls; even before I went out they started making a run. Guys made big shots and big plays and, most of all, our defense is what won the game."

Game Notes

New Orleans had lost three straight in Denver...The Nuggets started a four- game homestand on Sunday...The Nuggets, who will also host Phoenix, Miami and Cleveland on the residency, fell to 15-4 at home this season...The Hornets outrebounded the Nuggets, 45-33.