Nuggets 105, Trail Blazers 104

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DENVER (AP)—Redemption came quickly for Andre Miller, Marcus Camby and Carmelo Anthony.

The trio provided the heroics in the final seconds of Denver’s 105-104 win over the Portland Trail Blazers that snapped a four-game skid after each of them had made big blunders that could have cost the Nuggets the game.

Miller, who missed four free throws in the closing minutes, came up biggest of all, stealing the ball at midcourt from Jarrett Jack and scoring the winning basket with 4.3 seconds left.

Camby, who threw the ball away downcourt with 28 seconds left after his own steal, jogged off the court a winner for the first time since Dec. 26 after blocking Ruben Patterson’s desperation jumper at the buzzer.

And Anthony, who scored 33 points but missed a dunk with 1 1/2 minutes remaining, made this whole sequence possible by putting Denver within striking distance when he drew the foul on another dunk for a three-point play that pulled Denver to 104-102 with a minute remaining.

“We did a lot of great stuff and some kind of weird stuff,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “It was a kind of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type of game because we didn’t defend very aggressively until the end and we win the game because of our defense.

“It seemed like we kept beating ourselves with missed free throws and we missed a dunk and then Carmelo has an incredible dunk for a three-point play at the end of the game. It just seems to be a lot of good and bad,” Karl said. “Andre of course misses some free throws and then makes an incredible steal and wins the game.

“Once in a while you steal one back and in a way we stole this one back.”

Miller said his steal, which he called the biggest of his career, was as much luck as skill.

“I was going to foul him at first,” Miller conceded. “But I was just trying to play solid defense and I just got a hand in there.”

Camby marveled at Miller’s magnificent move.

“He picked his pocket. It was a three or four differential on the shot clock, and I don’t know if he was going to foul, but he had good anticipation and made a good play on it and got it clean,” Camby said. “That was the best clutch play I’ve been a part of. It was key, and we really needed it.”

Zach Randolph scored 28 for Portland, which led 97-88 with 5 1/2 minutes left when the Nuggets went on an 11-2 run—despite missing five free throws during the spurt—to tie it at 99 on Camby’s two foul shots with 1:59 remaining.

Randolph’s three-point play restored Portland’s lead and after Anthony missed a dunk at the other end, Randolph sank two more free throws, giving Portland a 104-99 lead with 1:14 remaining.

Anthony’s three-point play when he was fouled by Theo Ratliff on his rim-rattling dunk made it 104-102 with 1:03 left, and Eduardo Najera made one of two free throws after Sebastian Telfair’s errant 3-pointer, making it a one-point game with 44 seconds left.

The Portland locker room was a mixture of anguish and befuddlement. Jack buried his face in his hands for several minutes in the locker room, then yelled out, “I screwed up!” and headed to the showers.

“We have to win these,” Randolph said. “We gave them this one. We gave it away. We have to finish games. This was nothing short of a complete breakdown.”

Portland led by 10 in the third quarter and took an 84-76 edge into the fourth.

“We didn’t handle pressure well at all,” Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. “This was a total breakdown in controlling the ball on one end and defensively not getting stops. Just a total breakdown on both ends of the floor.”

Camby had 21 points and 11 boards and reserve Earl Boykins added 17 points for Denver, which hadn’t won since Camby returned from a broken right pinkie on Jan. 27 after missing a month.

“Early in the season we were losing these close games,” Miller said. “I guess it is a little bit of luck and some hard work.”

Notes

Telfair’s 47-footer at the buzzer gave Portland a 55-53 lead at the half. … Kenyon Martin, who created a stir by walking off to the locker room with 3 minutes left in his last game, sat out with a bruised left knee. He’s expected to return to the lineup Monday night at Golden State. … The Nuggets are 16-3 when Boykins scores at least 15.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Portland
Z. Randolph Z. Randolph
11-20,  28 Pts
12 Rebs, 3 Assists
 Denver
C. Anthony C. Anthony
9-22,  33 Pts
5 Rebs, 8 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists