New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - The crowd at New Orleans Arena saw NBA playoff history Monday night, though many in attendance wish they weren't witnesses, as their Hornets were annihilated by the Nuggets, 121-63, in Game 4 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series.
The 58-point differential tied the largest margin of defeat in league playoff history, set back on March 19, 1956 when the Minneapolis Lakers crushed the St. Louis Hawks, 133-75.
The Nuggets now hold a commanding 3-1 lead in the series and have a chance to seal things at home on Wednesday. The Northwest champs have not won a playoff series since 1994, exiting in the first round the last five years.
"I want them to think about what happened tonight and rewind it in their minds because when we get to Denver it's a one-game elimination process," Hornets head coach Byron Scott said. "We want to try our best to bring this series back to New Orleans for a Game 6. Our backs are against the wall. We have nothing else to do but coming out fighting on Wednesday night."
Carmelo Anthony recorded 26 points, seven assists and six rebounds, while Chauncey Billups finished with 17 points and eight helpers for Denver, which shot 56.6 percent from the floor and 10-of-20 from three-point land.
Chris Paul was clearly hobbled by a knee injury suffered while carrying the Hornets to a Game 3 victory. The All-Star point guard netted just four points on 2-of-7 shooting with six assists and as many turnovers.
New Orleans, which was led by David West's meager 14-point effort, also tied a franchise-low scoring mark, while recording all-time playoff lows in field goals made (17), field goals attempted (54), and assists (10), as well as an all-time playoff high in turnovers (27).
"Denver was very physical, we tried to be also," Paul said. "They made shots, we didn't. We turned the ball over about every possession and it was embarrassing. We didn't play well and they executed their game plan perfectly."
After just 2 1/2 minutes of play, the Hornets were staring at an 8-2 deficit. Eight straight Nuggets points later in the stanza capped by a Dahntay Jones jumper made it a 19-point affair, and Jones' trey at the buzzer made it 36-15.
The only solace for New Orleans in the second frame was a 14-of-16 performance at the free throw line, though they still trailed 61-39 at the break.
The second half was nothing short of embarrassing for the clearly fatigued Hornets, who netted just 24 points in the final 24 minutes.
Consecutive threes from Anthony and Billups early in the third highlighted an 11-0 run for the Nuggets, who held their opponent without a field goal over the final six minutes.
The 14-2 run leading up to the fourth resulted in both teams emptying their benches. Denver's reserves continued to have their way, though, as Linas Kleiza's trifecta sparked yet another 13-0 flurry for the visitors.
The final dagger in the shellacking was J.R. Smith's three-pointer for the final margin, as the Hornets tucked their tails between their legs and dribbled out the clock.
"Our guys are into going after this team quickly and aggressively," Denver head coach George Karl said. "Last game we let up after building a big lead. Tonight, I don't think we let up. They played too well not to complement them."
Game Notes: New Orleans' James Posey, who also sustained a knee injury during Game 3, recorded 12 points and seven rebounds...Peja Stojakovic ended with 10 points for the Hornets but missed all five three-point attempts. The Hornets as a whole hit 2-of-15 from downtown...Kleiza tallied 14 points, Smith and Jones each added 12, and Nene chipped in 13...The Hornets also scored 63 points in a playoff loss to Miami back on April 21, 2004.