Jazz 116, Nuggets 111
SALT LAKE CITY (AP)—The Denver Nuggets appeared poised to gain ground on first-place Utah in the Northwest Division. Then their superstar tag-team of Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson got knocked a step back—by two rookies.
Ronnie Brewer scored six of his 12 points in the fourth quarter and Paul Millsap added two blocks in the final period, rallying the Jazz from an 11-point deficit to a 116-111 victory Friday night and extending their division lead to five games over Denver.
“They were phenomenal. They came in and gave us a boost off the bench. They were scoring, they were blocking shots, they were rebounding. They gave us energy,” said Carlos Boozer, who had 25 points and 19 rebounds for the Jazz. “They did a great job. I’m really proud of the young guys.”
Iverson and Anthony put on a show, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Jazz. Anthony scored 37 points in his third game back from a 15-game suspension and Iverson had 33 points and six assists.
Marcus Camby added 21 points and 10 rebounds, but no other Nuggets player scored more than five.
Deron Williams had 16 points and 12 assists for Utah, making four straight free throws in the final minute. The Jazz went 10-for-10 from the line in the fourth quarter two nights after missing 12 foul shots in an overtime loss to Memphis.
“I looked over in the fourth quarter and I told everybody, ‘Man, this is a playoff game,”’ Williams said. “I haven’t been in one, but I knew this is how they felt. It went down to every possession.”
Utah lost Andrei Kirilenko to a sprained ankle in the second quarter and coach Jerry Sloan had to go to his younger players, especially with the foul trouble Anthony and Iverson were causing.
The Nuggets made 31 of 40 free throws and led through three quarters. Iverson and Anthony shot 28 of them.
“Our guys played them as tough as they could, but they’re going to get some calls,” Sloan said. “I thought our guys did a great job.”
Denver lost to Utah earlier this month at home, but that was shortly after Iverson arrived from Philadelphia and in the middle of Anthony’s fighting suspension. The Nuggets’ superstar tandem led Denver to an 11-point lead, but couldn’t hang on in the frenzied finish.
“It’s just important for us to not panic. We lost the game. We wanted the game so bad. We had an opportunity to win and we didn’t get it done,” Iverson said. “Our whole thing now is don’t panic. Stay together. That’s what good teams do.”
Iverson never panicked and he almost led the Nuggets to their sixth straight win. His 3-pointer with 1:11 left cut Utah’s lead to 110-109, then a bad pass bounced right to Iverson and he took it in for an uncontested layup that put the Nuggets up 111-110.
Matt Harpring missed a baseline jumper for Utah, but Nene was called for a foul on the rebound and Boozer made both free throws to put Utah back ahead.
Denver had plenty of time and Iverson got the ball to Anthony, but he dribbled it off his foot and the Jazz regained possession. Anthony pounded himself softly on the head with both fists after the turnover.
“He’s going to just continue to get better and better,” Iverson said. “For him to play that well in a game like this shows a lot.”
Williams made both free throws with 21 seconds left, then two more after Steve Blake missed badly on a 3-pointer. Millsap grabbed the rebound after Blake’s shot clanged off the rim.
Anthony tried another 3 but missed and Williams dribbled out the clock, then
Denver led 67-62 after a fast-paced first half. … Sloan got a technical in the fourth quarter after riding the officials most of the game for the calls he thought Iverson and Anthony were getting. … Anthony missed a layup in the third quarter because he didn’t release the ball when he went toward the basket. He was called for traveling, delighting the Jazz fans who were booing the officials most of the game. … Gordan Giricek scored 13 for Utah.