Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets looked like the only ones having fun in this party town.
Anthony scored all of his 26 points in the first three quarters, and Denver thoroughly dismantled the New Orleans Hornets 121-63 on Monday night to take a commanding 3-1 lead in their first-round playoff series.
The New Orleans Arena was mostly empty by the end of the third quarter, when Denver led 89-50 on its way to the most lopsided playoff win in franchise history. It was also the worst playoff loss ever for the Hornets.
Looking twice as quick as the Hornets on both ends of the court, the Nuggets stifled Hornets All-Star Chris Paul, whose four points and six assists amounted to one of the worst games of his career.
HAWKS 81, HEAT 71: Zaza Pachulia -- with a black right eye for his trouble -- finished with 12 points and 18 rebounds, and Atlanta raced out to a huge first-half lead and frustrated Dwyane Wade endlessly to beat host Miami, tying the first-round Eastern Conference playoff series 2-2.
Mike Bibby scored 15 points, Joe Johnson added 14, and Josh Smith had 13 for the Hawks.
Wade scored 22 points, doing so on 9-for-26 shooting and wincing at times from a back injury. Jermaine O'Neal added 20 points, and James Jones had 19, including consecutive four-point plays.
BRIEFLY: Lakers forward Luke Walton will miss at least one week of the playoffs with a partial ligament tear in his left ankle.
* A federal judge in Las Vegas has ordered former NBA forward Dennis Rodman to pay a former casino employee $225,000 for grabbing and humiliating her at work in March 2006.
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