Bobcats 105, Nuggets 101

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DENVER (AP)—Gerald Wallace put a big hurt on Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson.

Wallace had 25 points, 13 rebounds and one very big block in the final minute as the Charlotte Bobcats handed the Denver Nuggets their third straight loss, 105-101 Monday night.

Iverson (31 points) and Anthony (25) bounced back from a poor shooting night against New Jersey on Saturday night, when they were a combined 11-for-33. But they both got banged up against the Bobcats with Iverson spraining his right ankle and Anthony spraining his left wrist.

Anthony said he’s sore but fine and will play Wednesday night at Portland.

Iverson sounded a lot less confident in his status.

“The way I feel right now, I don’t know if I would miss a game. I just will have to get up and see how I feel tomorrow,” Iverson said. “Right now it’s just frustrating to be out there at the end hobbling like that.”

X-rays on Iverson’s puffy ankle were negative.

Iverson and Anthony are 2-3 together, and their pairing since Melo’s return from a 15-game suspension for fighting hasn’t been the problem for the Nuggets, who failed for the second time in three nights to gain ground on division-leading Utah.

Rather, it’s incorporating newcomer Jeff Blake into the mix and having players such as J.R. Smith, Eduardo Najera, Linas Kleiza and Yakhouba Diawara adjust to their new, reduced roles, coach George Karl said.

“When things were going good, everybody was saying it was working right away, but it’s going to take some time,” said Anthony. “I don’t want to make any excuses right now but it is going to take some time. I’m back off of a 30 days’ (absence) and I’m still trying to get my rhythm, get my flow. My teammates are trying to get used to me back out there on the court. When I was out, they had different roles out there.”

Charlotte capitalized on the disarray to win for just the eighth time in 24 road games.

“It was not a bad loss,” Karl insisted. “We played a very good team.”

That’s a point Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff has been preaching. Ten of his team’s 16 wins have come against teams with winning records.

“I say we have a bad record, but we’re not a bad basketball team,” Bickerstaff said.

With the Bobcats ahead 102-101, Anthony came down with the ball that was bobbled around following a miss by Adam Morrison and he darted for the other end only to get rejected by Wallace.

“I went for steal then but couldn’t reach it, so I kept going and blocked him,” Wallace said.

Wallace then misfired at the other end, but Raymond Felton got the long rebound, was fouled by Anthony and sank both shots with 16 seconds left for a 104-101 lead.

Smith’s off-balance 3-pointer was off-target with 6 seconds left and Jeff McInnis sank one of two free throws to ice it.

Before the game, Bickerstaff was lamenting his lack of a clutch player to close out games. “What we lack is a difference maker. A guy to go to down the stretch. We don’t have a Kobe or a Carter to give the ball all the time with the game on the line,” he said.

But he had plenty of players step up on this night.

Charlotte trailed 97-94 when Wallace hit a free throw, Morrison (12 points) swished a 3-pointer from the top of the key and Wallace swooped in for a tip-in to give the Bobcats a 100-97 lead with 2:26 remaining.

Iverson’s three-point play tied it at 100 but the Nuggets wouldn’t lead again, befuddled by Charlotte’s strong defense and opportunistic offense.

Emeka Okafor added 18 points, 10 boards and five blocks and Felton scored 16 for Charlotte, which took an 81-79 lead into the fourth quarter and didn’t fade this time.

“We play better against the elite teams in the league,” Matt Carroll said. “We play fearless like we have nothing to lose.”

Iverson said the key to ending Denver’s skid is to step up on defense.

“Defense got us back into the game, that was evident,” Iverson said. “It was easy to see that, that was when the crowd got back into the game, that’s when we got into the game. That should be a sign to show what we can do when we play defense. When you play good defense, it turns into excellent offense.”

Notes

Bobcats C-F Othella Harrington sat out with a sore left knee, which he hurt at shootaround. … The Nuggets fell to 12-12 at home and are 13-11 against teams with losing records.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Charlotte
G. Wallace G. Wallace
9-17,  25 Pts
13 Rebs, 3 Assists
 Denver
A. Iverson A. Iverson
10-15,  31 Pts
3 Rebs, 8 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

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Monday, Jan 29