No 'Melo, but Nuggets still win

DENVER (AP) -- Playing without Carmelo Anthony, the Denver
Nuggets struggled but won. The New Orleans Hornets, meanwhile, left
after yet another close loss wishing their injury problems were
confined to just one player.

Earl Boykins scored 22 points and the Nuggets played great
defense down the stretch Monday night to overcome Anthony's absence
and defeat the injury-ravaged Hornets 76-67.

"Our defense is coming around and it's saving us, because
offensively, we're not getting much," Nuggets coach Jeff Bzdelik

The Nuggets won for the sixth time in seven games, but struggled
mightily against New Orleans, which came into the final stop of a
five-game road trip with the league's worst record and without
Jamaal Magloire, Baron Davis, Rodney Rogers and Jamal Mashburn.

Magloire is the latest addition to the injury list. The Hornets
found out Monday he'd be gone for up to three months with a
dislocated finger.

"It's something we're used to," Hornets forward P.J. Brown
said. "We've always had guys injured. It's tough, but that's the
way it is."

For a good part of the game, New Orleans looked well adjusted to
its injuries. The Nuggets, without Anthony while his sprained ankle
heals, did not.

Denver trailed through much of the third quarter and well into
the fourth. Bryon Russell (12 points) hit back-to-back 3-pointers
to give Denver a 67-65 lead with 6:30 left. Boykins followed with a
ducking, darting scoop shot to increase the lead to four and Kenyon
Martin made a layup to make it 71-65.

Martin left the game for a spell with back spasms, but with the
game still close in the fourth quarter, he insisted upon returning.

"With the way the game was going, I had to come back," Martin
said. "It was hard to sit over there when the team wasn't playing

Lee Nailon scored 16 points for the Hornets, who missed 13 of 17
shots in the fourth quarter and went scoreless for seven minutes
down the stretch, a period that saw their one-point lead turn into
an eight-point deficit.

David West ended the drought with a layup at the 1:08 mark. The
bucket helped the Hornets avoid matching the lowest point total in
their 16-year history.

"I thought tonight, offensively, we just collapsed," said
Brown, who had 11 points.

This was New Orleans' ninth loss by single digits as the Hornets
fell to 1-12.

Meanwhile, Anthony missed his first game of the season after
getting hurt Saturday in a victory over the Houston Rockets. The
Nuggets are hoping he's back for Thursday night's game against
LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Boykins finished 9-for-16 and was the only Nuggets player to
make more than half his shots. Teammate Andre Miller had 14 points
and eight assists and Martin finished with 10 points. Starting
center Marcus Camby got shut out over 39 minutes, but played good
defense and grabbed 11 rebounds.

"He does so many things in terms of helping people
defensively," Bzdelik said. "He will also affect shots, which he
did two or three times. Those are two areas that don't show up in
the box score."

Game notes
The Hornets traveled 5,500 miles on their five-game road
trip. ... The Nuggets improved to 33-10 when Miller has seven or
more assists. ... Former Nugget Chris Andersen played 16 minutes
for the Hornets and scored four points. ... The crowd was listed at
13,119 but looked much, much thinner for this, a freezing-cold
Monday night game.