Nuggets 117, Bucks 111

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MILWAUKEE (AP)—Denver coach Jeff Bzdelik says Carmelo Anthony is special, not just because he is the best player on the Nuggets at age 19.

Anthony scored 31 points and had a career-high nine assists, and Denver tied a season-high in points with a 117-111 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night.

“He’s a very special—I’m not even going to say young—he’s a very special player,” Bzdelik said after his team scored 65 second-half points to win for only the third time in the past 12 games.

The rookie forward scored 18 of his points after halftime, with six rebounds and just one turnover in 42 minutes.

“We played good from beginning to end,” Anthony said. “We want our game to be running, being confident out there and having fun.”

The victory kept Denver one-half game ahead of Utah for the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference. The teams play Sunday night in Denver.

“Biggest game of the season,” said Denver’s Andre Miller, who had 23 points and a team-high eight rebounds. “This was a big one (against Milwaukee), but that one is even bigger.”

Milwaukee’s Keith Van Horn scored 25 points, Desmond Mason had 22 and Michael Redd added 19 despite missing 11 of 15 shots. Milwaukee has given up at least 102 points in 13 of its last 18 games.

“We didn’t play defense, that was the problem,” Mason said.

Nene added 21 for the Nuggets, who scored 54 points in the paint.

“We got inside early,” Anthony said. “That opened up the outside for us. Once we got our outside game going and our inside game going, it was pretty hard for them to stop.”

Denver used a 16-4 run bridging the third and fourth quarters to open 100-85 lead on Anthony’s 18-foot jumper.

Milwaukee closed to 104-96, but Anthony scored five points in a 10-4 run and Denver took a 114-100 lead on Earl Boykins’ 3 pointer.

Denver shot 26-of-44 in the second half, and it was the most points scored in a half by the Nuggets this season.

“They were in a great rhythm all night shooting the basketball,” Milwaukee guard Damon Jones said. “They were hitting a lot of contested shots.”

The Nuggets scored 36 third-quarter points to lead 88-81 on Boykins’ running shot with 26 seconds left in the period. They took the lead for good, 69-67, on Voshon Lenard’s fast-break layup with 6:03 left.

Denver used a 7-0 run to take its largest lead of the first half, 52-45, ona jumper by Andre Miller. Toni Kukoc’s basket made it 52-47 at halftime.

Notes

Denver swept the season series, 2-0. … Milwaukee has lost four of five after winning four straight. … Milwaukee is 6-6 since Van Horn joined the team. … It was only the second time in the past eight years that Denver has won in Milwaukee. … … The Bucks are 7-15 against Western Conference teams. … It was the third time this season Denver scored 117 points in a game. … Denver’s 47 field goals were the most allowed by the Bucks thisyear.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Denver
C. Anthony C. Anthony
11-20,  31 Pts
6 Rebs, 9 Assists
 Milwaukee
D. Jones D. Jones
6-11,  18 Pts
1 Rebs, 10 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists