DENVER (AP)—No Carmelo Anthony meant someone had to step up.
The Nuggets had a cast of players fill the void left by Anthony’s absence in a 107-100 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.
“Everybody has to step up with him gone,” Martin said.
With Anthony out with a sprained left ankle, Martin and Camby each had double-doubles and Kleiza chipped in 23 points. Allen Iverson was his usual consistent self, scoring 29 points, including a 15-for-18 performance at the free throw line.
“That’s how we have to play with Melo out,” said Camby, who scored 13 points and grabbed 21 rebounds, including 15 by halftime. “K-Mart had a terrific game, L.K. (Kleiza) stepped up as well and we got the win. Guys have to step up.”
Josh Smith certainly stepped up for the Hawks, finishing with 22 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for his first career triple-double.
“It’s not easy to get one of those in this league,” said Martin, who had 20 points and 10 boards. “That’s a testament to how hard he works.”
Smith just wished the accomplishment would’ve come under better circumstances—like in a win.
However, he must like the Mile High City because something big always seems to happen to him in Denver. He also won his first slam dunk contest during All-Star weekend at the Pepsi Center in the February 2005.
“I don’t what it is, I guess it’s the air,” Smith said. “Denver is a great city. I get hyped to play against this team.”
The Nuggets played solid in Anthony’s absence. But they’re hoping he’s a quick healer. Anthony missed his first game of the season after he came down on the foot of Kobe Bryant in Monday’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. He’s listed as day-to-day.
Anthony is the fourth-leading scorer in the league, averaging 25.5 points. His return could send Kleiza back to the bench. Not that he minds.
“I’m not going to be able to do what he does,” Kleiza said. “He’s a great player, one of the best in the league. I am still trying to find my game.”
Marvin Williams had 20 points and Al Horford added 14 points and 11 rebounds for Atlanta. Anthony Johnson finished with 12 points in his return to the lineup after serving a one-game suspension for a flagrant foul on Toronto’s Jose Calderon last week.
The Hawks didn’t do themselves any favors by spotting the Nuggets a 17-point lead in the first half. They had to play catch-up the rest of the game.
“You can’t spot a team 17 points at home and get back into the game,” Hawks coach Mike Woodson said.
Atlanta gave it a shot, though. All it took were back-to-back technicals to light a spark. With 5:27 remaining, Smith and Woodson each received technicals after complaining about a no-call on Smith’s layup.
Iverson made both technical foul shots to push Denver’s lead up to 96-86. Atlanta then went on a 10-4 run to pull to within 100-96.
However, Anthony Carter and Kleiza silenced the comeback with layups late in the game to secure the win.
Kleiza scored eight points in the fourth quarter.
“We probably don’t win that game tonight without Linas,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “A.I. had another gutty performance. Marcus was remarkable and Kenyon played good defense. Without Nene (testicular tumor surgery), Melo and Chucky Atkins (sports hernia operation), we are kind of in survival mode.”
In the meantime, the Nuggets are counting on different people to step up for their injured players. Camby is volunteering to be one of those to lend a hand.
“I want to be held accountable for what I can bring to the ball club,” Camby said.
So does Martin. Ditto for Kleiza.
Atlanta C Zaza Pachulia served a one-game suspension Wednesday for conduct detrimental to the team. He’s averaging 4.6 points this season. … Atkins had the stitches removed from his lower abdomen on Wednesday. He’s been out since he had surgery to repair a right groin/abdominal strain on Jan. 11. Atkins is still hoping to be back by late March or early April. … The Nuggets improved to 13-3 when Camby posts a double-double.