NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Danilo Gallinari scored 23 points and the Denver Nuggets went on a 19-0 run spanning the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth, beating the New Orleans Hornets 96-88 on Friday night.
The Nuggets scored the last eight points of the third quarter and took the lead for the first time, 64-63 on Andre Miller’s shot in the lane to start the fourth. They scored on their first five possessions of the fourth while the Hornets did not get off a shot, committing four consecutive turnovers.
Al Harrington had 14 points off the bench for the balanced Nuggets, who won their fourth in a row. Andre Miller and Arron Afflalo added 13 points, with Ty Lawson contributing 12 points and eight assists.
Reserve Greivis Vasquez had 16 points for the Hornets, who lost their fifth in a row.
New Orleans played without Eric Gordon, who scored 22 points in Wednesday’s loss to Philadelphia but will be out two to three weeks after experiencing swelling in the same right knee that forced him to miss four consecutive games before that.
Forward Trevor Ariza sat out his second straight game with a right groin strain.
The first few minutes of the fourth quarter were decisive. After Miller’s basket, Kosta Koufos scored inside, Miller drove for a three-point play, Rudy Fernandez had a layup off another Hornets turnover and Gallinari sank two free throws, giving the Nuggets a 73-63 lead. They were ahead by at least five the rest of the way.
The Hornets, who lost a six-point, fourth-quarter lead to Philadelphia on Wednesday, were even worse this time. They did not get a shot off in the quarter until Jarrett Jack clanked one off the rim after more than 2 1/2 minutes.
Gallinari gave Denver its largest lead, 85-73 with his third 3-pointer with 4:27 left.
The Hornets, who entered as the NBA’s worst 3-point shooting team (19.5 percent), went 4 of 5 on 3s in the first quarter, taking a 32-24 lead. Marco Belinelli hit two 3s early and fed Vasquez for a third after passing up an open shot.
Carl Landry then drove the baseline for an emphatic reverse dunk with 19 seconds left, giving the Hornets a season high for points in any quarter.
They tied their season low of 15 for any quarter in the second, an ugly stretch for both teams. New Orleans scored six points and Denver had four in the first six minutes. They combined for 13 turnovers, with the Hornets committing eight.
Vasquez’s 3 gave the Hornets their largest lead, 43-32, but Gallinari scored five of his 12 first-half points as the Nuggets cut their deficit to 47-41 by halftime.
The Hornets weren’t much better in the third quarter, scoring 16 points.
Notes: Nene retuned for Denver after missing two games with a bruised heel. He scored six points on 2-of-7 shooting. . The Hornets and Nuggets meet again in Denver on Sunday. . New Orleans cleared Xavier Henry on Friday, finalizing a three-way trade with Philadelphia and Memphis that was held up briefly as they checked out Henry’s injured right knee. Henry said Wednesday he expected to be ready to play within two weeks. . Vasquez set a career high with three 3-pointers.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)