Mason's late layup lifts Hornets past struggling NuggetsFeb 8, 2007 - 6:49 AM DENVER (Ticker) -- Desmond Mason was in the right place at the right time.
Mason scored 23 points and hit the game-winning basket as time expired to help the New Orleans Hornets to a 114-112 overtime triumph over the struggling Denver Nuggets.
David West scored 17 points and Tyson Chandler added 10 and 16 rebounds for the Hornets, who erased a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit to force OT.
"We really picked it up as far as getting up and down the floor, and that's they way we've got to play," Hornets coach Byron Scott said.
In the extra session, West drained a jumper and scored on a layup as the Hornets opened a 112-107 advantage with 2:10 remaining.
Carmelo Anthony made two free throws and former Hornet J.R. Smith hit an off-balanced 3-pointer from the right corner, tying the game at 112-112 with 17 seconds left.
Smith was facing his former team for the first time. He was traded away in the offseason after two season with the Hornets. On Wednesday, he scored just nine points on 3-of-13 shooting.
On the final possession, Chris Paul misfired on a pull-up jumper but Mason grabbed the offensive rebound and scored over three defenders just before the buzzer sounded for the win.
"This was a first game-winner for me, and it really felt good," Mason said. "I let go of the ball right before the red light. The second half of the game, we all stepped up, compared to the first half when we all struggled. We played solid basketball in that second half and made plays. We wanted to be more aggressive, and we were."
"We just tried to fight through," said Paul, who had 15 points and seven assists. "They made a nice run on us. One thing this team doesn't do is we don't give up. Desmond made a nice shot at the end of the game. I missed the shot and Mason just started fighting for the ball and that says a lot about him."
In regulation, Mason stole the ball at mid-court and converted a three-point play to tie the game at 101-101 with 60 seconds to play
After trading baskets, Anthony shot an airball with two seconds left, giving the Hornets one last chance. But Paul also misfired to send the game into overtime.
Anthony scored 27 points and All-Star Allen Iverson added 22 and nine assists for Denver, which has dropped seven of its last eight games.
"It's tough letting leads slowly slip away," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "We are cheating the game right now. I feel like Santa, we keep giving teams gifts."
"It was a close game and it's another game we lost by two or four points," said Denver forward Nene, who had 18 points and eight rebounds. "It makes everybody frustrated."
It was Iverson's first game back since missing four games due to a sprained ankle, but the former scoring champ might have re-injured the ankle late in the overtime session.
"I don't know how I did it," Iverson said. "I don't think I came down on it any certain way as far as twisting my ankle or anything like that. I just re-aggravated it. I can't help us out there like this, I can't. I tried as hard as I could, but it just wasn't me.
"I couldn't move the way I wanted to move. I couldn't get to the basket like I wanted to. At times I settled for jumpers because I couldn't get there. I just struggled out there."
NEW ORLEANS 114
DENVER 112 FINAL IN 1ST OT
Feb 7 11:41 PM
NEW ORLEANS 103
DENVER 103 END OF 4TH QTR GOING INTO OVERTIME
Feb 7 11:26 PM
NEW ORLEANS 78
DENVER 81 END, 3RD QTR
Feb 7 10:51 PM
NEW ORLEANS 51
DENVER 56 HALFTIME
Feb 7 10:08 PM
NEW ORLEANS 22
DENVER 31 END, 1ST QTR
Feb 7 9:35 PM
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