Brian Roberts

Even Brian Roberts couldn’t believe the performance he delivered to help end Denver’s 15-game winning streak.

Starting for only the second time, the rookie doubled his season high with 18 assists, Ryan Anderson scored 23 points and the short-handed New Orleans Hornets beat the Nuggets 110-86 on Monday night.

”It’s crazy to fathom, having 18 assists,” Roberts said. ”Guys play years and don’t have that many assists. Somebody pointed out I had more assists than they had as a team. For me to come out in my second start and do that is just a testament to my teammates making shots.”

And to Roberts’ work ethic, too. He never had 10 assists in four years at the University of Dayton, where he was more of a scorer than a facilitator. Then he spent five years trying to make an NBA roster before hooking on with the Hornets last summer, re-working his game to become a pass-first player.

Eleven of those passes turned into assists in the first half alone against the Nuggets, who finished with four fewer assists than Roberts. He became the 20th rookie to have 18 assists or more and the first since Darren Collison did it for New Orleans in 2010…

Danilo Gallinari had 24 points for the Nuggets, who were without starting point guard Ty Lawson (right heel injury) for the third consecutive game. Denver lost for the first time since Feb. 22 against Washington after matching its 1969-70 ABA team’s record of 15 straight victories.

”We played a bad game and they played a great game,” said Nuggets point guard Andre Miller, who had nine points and six assists.

– Reported by Guerry Smith of the Associated Press