Hickson leads Nuggets past Pelicans 102-93

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DENVER (AP) - J.J. Hickson had 19 points and 11 rebounds and the Denver Nuggets overcame a slow start to beat the New Orleans Pelicans 102-93 Sunday night.

Wilson Chandler added 19 to help the Nuggets bounce back from a rare home loss on Friday. They're now 7-3 at Pepsi Center this season after going a franchise-best 38-3 in 2012-13.

Ryan Anderson scored 26 and Austin Rivers chipped in a season-high 17 for the Pelicans, who began a five-game road swing. They were without Tyreke Evans. The versatile guard sat out with a sprained left ankle.

This game was tight most of the way, with neither team able to pull away. The Nuggets went on an 8-0 run midway through the third quarter to gain a little separation, leading 71-62 after a pair of free throws by Ty Lawson. The Pelicans could never slice into the deficit.

Jordan Hamilton put an exclamation on the win with dunks on back-to-back possessions late in the fourth quarter.

The Nuggets once again received solid production from their bench players, with Nate Robinson leading the way by scoring 14. The reserves are averaging 45.3 points, which is third-most in the NBA.

Denver trailed 27-24 after the first quarter. It's the eighth straight game in which Denver has trailed after the opening 12 minutes.

Fed up with his team's slow starts, coach Brian Shaw has done some investigating to fix it. He and his staff examined what the players were eating in pregame meals, whether they were getting proper rest leading up to tip and even changed their stretching routine.

Shaw said his team's performance to start games almost felt as if opponents were "out there (playing) 5-on-0. That's got to change."

The first-year head coach even put his players on notice that he was thinking about switching up the starting lineup. But he stayed with his familiar starting crew against the Pelicans.

It was another frosty start as Denver fell behind 8-0 before the players even had time to work up a sweat.

The Nuggets had a spirited practice on Saturday, with Shaw's guards hardly missing a shot, he reported in a pregame chat. That was quite a contrast to a 103-93 loss to Utah on Friday, when Randy Foye and Lawson went a combined 0-for-9 from the field.

Shaw even challenged the speedy Lawson to step up, saying: "As the point guard of this team and a guy on the cusp of becoming an All-Star level player, you can't allow what happened to our team happen to our team."

Lawson had a solid first half, scoring five points and dishing out five assists, including one to Foye for a 3-pointer to tie the game at 52 just before halftime.

NOTES: Pelicans F Anthony Davis (fractured left hand) sat on the bench in a suit. ... The Pelicans had just six fast-break points. They came in averaging 17.4, which was second in the league. ... Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly spent the last three seasons as assistant GM in New Orleans. ... Pelicans coach Monty Williams played in one game for the Nuggets in 1998-99. He's now 5-6 all-time against Denver.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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