Nuggets hold off Celtics, 114-105
DENVER — The Denver Nuggets are building an impressive record against the NBA's elite teams.
J.R. Smith scored 16 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter and the Nuggets recovered from blowing an early 20-point lead to beat the Boston Celtics, 114-105, yesterday.
Chauncey Billups had 26 points and Carmelo Anthony had 23 for the Nuggets, who improved to 4-0 against the top three teams in the Eastern Conference. They've beaten Cleveland twice, and Orlando and Boston once each this season.
"We're still inconsistent at times," said Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin, who had 12 points and 10 rebounds. "If we can lock in and just do the stuff we can do and learn from the mistakes we make, that can go a long way."
Said Anthony: "We're just playing good basketball, that's it. We'll let you all decide if you consider us one of the top teams."
The inconsistency Martin cited in the play of the Nuggets was evident against the Celtics, who rallied from 20 points down in the first quarter to tie the game at 66 in the third before fading down the stretch.
"They're right there," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said when asked to size up the Nuggets. "We knew that before the year started. They're just as good as anybody else. They can win it all. We can win it all. All those teams, but you don't get a trophy for the regular season."
Ray Allen had 25 points, and Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Marquis Daniels added 15 points each for the Celtics. They remain an NBA-best 20-10 away from home.
Magic 101, Cavaliers 95: Dwight Howard had 22 points and 16 rebounds, and host Orlando handed Cleveland its first three-game losing streak in two years. Cleveland's skid comes on the heels of a 13-game win streak. Howard was 8-for-13 shooting and added four blocks, and Vince Carter had eight of his 11 points in the fourth quarter for the Magic.
Thunder 109, Timberwolves 107: Kevin Durant scored 32 points to extend his streak of games with at least 25 points to 28 games and Russell Westbrook had a triple-double to lead visiting Oklahoma City to its ninth straight win. Westbrook had 22 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists, and Jeff Green added 17 points and 14 rebounds for the Thunder.
Jazz 93, Trail Blazers 89: Carlos Boozer scored on an offensive putback at the end of regulation to force overtime, and visiting Utah rallied from down 25 in the third quarter. Down 64-39 with 7 minutes left in the third, Utah outscored the Blazers 44-19 over the final 19 minutes. Boozer finished with 22 points and a career-best 23 rebounds.
Pistons 109, Spurs 101: Richard Hamilton scored 27 points and Rodney Stuckey added 20 and host Detroit held on for the win after trailing to start overtime. Detroit was down one at the OT tip because of a technical foul on Hamilton, but ripped off an 8-2 run to start the extra period.
Warriors 108, Hawks 104: Stephen Curry scored 32 points and made the go-ahead free throw in the final minute after a technical foul on Jamal Crawford to help host Golden State edge Atlanta. Monta Ellis scored 26 for the Warriors, who got their first win against a team with a winning record since beating Boston on Dec. 28.
Grizzlies 104, Nets 94: Rudy Gay scored 29 points and visiting Memphis rallied from an 18-point first-half deficit. O.J. Mayo scored 10 of his 24 points in a 17-point run that bridged the third and fourth quarters and put the Grizzlies ahead for good.
Suns 104, Kings 88: Jason Richardson scored 26 points, Amare Stoudemire had 19 points and 14 rebounds, and Steve Nash had 17 assists as host Phoenix completed a season series sweep of Sacramento. Newly acquired Carl Landry led Sacramento with 18 points.
Hornets 102, Rockets 94: David West scored 27 points, including four in the final 2 minutes, to lift host New Orleans to the win. Darren Collison added 26 points for New Orleans.