PHILADELPHIA — Playing their fourth game in five nights and missing their leading scorer, the sluggish Nuggets appeared well on their way to their third straight loss.
Then they cracked down on defense and found a hot hand off the bench in Jordan Hamilton.
Hamilton hit three straight 3-pointers late in the fourth quarter to help Denver overcome a slow start and the absence of Ty Lawson for a 103-92 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night.
"He's been doing that for us. He spaces the floor," Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said of Hamilton. "We finally got some movement when our guards started to attack, their defense started to converge and he found the open windows."
The Nuggets (12-8) led by four with 4 minutes, 28 seconds to go before Hamilton, who finished with 13 points, made three 3s in a span of 67 seconds to push Denver's lead to 11.
It came as part of a 15-2 run that turned an 86-all tie into a 101-88 lead for the Nuggets, who held the Sixers (7-14) to 15 points in the final quarter.
"We found a way to contain them and force them to take some tough shots, and Jordan caught a little fire," said Andre Miller, who had eight points and seven assists.
Nate Robinson led the way with 20 points and J.J. Hickson contributed 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Nuggets, who had dropped their previous two contests.
Tony Wroten finished with 20 points for the Sixers, who held a four-point lead at the half. Philadelphia has dropped 10 of 12.
"The right run at the right time definitely helps," Evan Turner said. "I thought we had control of the game most of the game."
Turner, the Sixers' top scorer, failed to reach double-digit points for just the second time this year, finishing with six points on 3-for-12 shooting.
Denver dominated from beyond the arc, where it hit seven 3-pointers to the Sixers' three, and on the boards, where it won the rebounding battle 52-38. Philadelphia shot just 7 for 20 in the final quarter and didn't even attempt a free throw.
"They went on that run, and we came back on offense and we got good looks," Thaddeus Young said. "But it seemed like we couldn't knock them down."
Both teams played without their starting point guards.
Lawson, who left Denver's 106-98 loss to the Boston Celtics on Friday, was sidelined with a left hamstring strain. The fifth-year pro leads the Nuggets in scoring (19.3) and assists (8.0).
Sixers rookie Michael Carter-Williams spent his third night in the hospital while recovering from an infection on his right knee and missed his second straight game.
"It's being monitored closely, but nothing to get too overly concerned with," Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said before the game.
Philadelphia is 1-5 this season without Carter-Williams.
The Sixers jumped out of the gate quickly on a 10-2 run. Denver took its first lead 23-22 with 1:53 in the first, but Hollis Thompson's 3-pointer with 47 seconds to go sparked Philadelphia to a 27-25 advantage after 12 minutes.
The fifth game of a six-game road swing might have taken its toll on the Nuggets, who have been plagued recently with slow starts and trailed after the first quarter for the fifth straight game.
Philadelphia played an unusually clean first half in which it turned the ball over just four times to take a 53-49 lead into intermission. One of the league's worst in turning over the ball, the 76ers entered averaging 18 giveaways per night.
Wroten started in Carter-Williams' place and led the way at the half with 14 points on 7-for-12 shooting. As a team, the Sixers shot 50 percent from the floor before halftime.
"Tony Wroten was hot," Hamilton said. "They were getting some good looks at the rim. ... Their reserves came in and scored some shots, and we said, 'Man, we just gotta crack down on these guys.' And that's what we did."
Notes: Lawson did not play for the first time this season. The Nuggets were 8-1 last year without Lawson in the lineup. ... The Sixers outscored the Nuggets 64-42 in the paint. ... The 76ers observed a moment of silence prior to the game for South African leader Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday at 95. ... On Monday, the Nuggets wrap up their six-game road trip at the Washington Wizards and the Sixers host the Los Angeles Clippers.