Nuggets 114, SuperSonics 103
SEATTLE (AP)—With the schedule Denver faces over the final few weeks, games against teams like Seattle are ones the Nuggets must win to avoid letting a playoff spot slip away.
After playing “no worse than I could have,” in the first half, Allen Iverson scored 21 of his 26 points after halftime, and Carmelo Anthony scored 32 in the Nuggets’ 114-103 victory over the SuperSonics on Sunday night.
Anthony and Iverson helped the Nuggets pull away and snap a three-game losing streak that included a surprising home loss to Seattle last Wednesday. Anthony scored six straight points midway through the fourth, then Iverson scored on three consecutive possessions in the final two minutes.
“The message was clear weeks ago that we had to get focused and try to win basketball games,” Iverson said. “If it’s not there now, it’s a problem.”
It was Anthony’s 29th game with 30 or more points. He scored 17 in the first half, then relented to Iverson for much of the second half.
But the Nuggets’ two stars weren’t alone in contributing to this win. Reserve Linas Kleiza added 16 points, including a powerful dunk while bulling over Seattle’s Earl Watson, and a swat of Luke Ridnour’s jumper that landed in the sixth row behind the baseline.
“We were somewhat in control of that game and I thought we fought with pride,” Denver coach George Karl said. “I feel we are close to breaking out and really playing well.”
Those contributions were needed to overcome a career-high 28 points from Watson, and a scrappy Seattle squad that nearly erased a few double-digit deficits, but never caught the Nuggets.
Watson hit six 3-pointers and carried the Sonics at times, scoring 18 in the second and third quarters combined. His previous career high of 24 came last Tuesday night against Minnesota.
“It was a game they needed, so you can’t really match a team that’s in desperation for a win because they’re fighting to make the playoffs and hold onto their spot,” Watson said. “They came out and they beat us.”
Denver had dropped five of its last six and a loss on Sunday would have reduced the Nuggets’ advantage over Golden State for the eighth playoff spot down to one game. Denver’s schedule in the next eight days includes the Lakers twice, the Clippers, Dallas and Sacramento.
Anthony’s six-point spurt midway through the fourth gave the Nuggets a 102-93 lead. Seattle trimmed the lead to four, but Iverson capped his night with a driving three-point play in traffic and a pair of tough jumpers on consecutive possessions.
“I don’t like standings, especially where we’re at,” Anthony said. “We’re just trying to knock these games out.”
The Nuggets’ fourth-quarter charge was sparked by an unlikely 3-pointer at the end of the third from J.R. Smith.
Denver’s lead grew to 12 midway through the third quarter when Iverson hit a step-back 18-footer after making Ridnour stumble, Blake made an off-balance jumper and Iverson added two free throws.
Seattle then made its second significant rally, fueled by Watson and reserve guard Mike Wilks. The duo scored 12 of Seattle’s final 14 points of the quarter, and Wilks’ tip-in with 6 seconds left in the quarter got the Sonics within 81-80.
With the quarter ticking away, Smith got the ball just in front of the Seattle bench, pulled up short of two defenders and swished a 35-footer.
That shot propelled Denver. The Nuggets scored 10 of the first 15 points of the fourth quarter.
Karl was leaving for Boise, Idaho after the game to be with his son Coby, who will have surgery to remove cancerous lymph nodes on Monday. … Original Seattle radio announcer Bob Blackburn attended his first game after having quadruple bypass heart surgery. … Former Seattle Mariners’ DH Edgar Martinez came out to hit souvenir balls into the stands during the fourth quarter. He whiffed on his first two swings.