Carmelo scores 30 to lead Nuggets past Blazers
DENVER: Carmelo Anthony scored 30 points — his third consecutive game with at least 30 points — and the Denver Nuggets beat the Portland Trail Blazers 118-106 Sunday night for their third straight victory.
J.R. Smith added 22 points, Chauncey Billups had 21 points and Nene 14 for the Nuggets, who improved to 28-5 at the Pepsi Center, the third-best home record in the NBA behind Cleveland and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Jerryd Bayless' 24 points led the Trail Blazers, who saw their three-game winning streak snapped.
Andre Miller had 19 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 16.
Both teams played short-handed. The Nuggets were missing Kenyon Martin (knee) and Ty Lawson (shoulder) and the Trail Blazers were without Marcus Camby (ankle). On top of missing Camby, the Trail Blazers learned Sunday that center Joel Przybilla, who was already out for the season, had again ruptured the right patella tendon he tore in late December when he slipped in the shower at his home in Milwaukee over the weekend.
Trailing 66-49 at halftime, the Trail Blazers cut the deficit to 79-71 with 3:31 left in the third quarter when Martell Webster hit a 3-pointer and made one of two free throws in an ensuing possession.
The Nuggets rebuilt a double-digit lead with Anthony connecting on a 20-foot jumper and Nene driving through traffic for a dunk as part of a three-point play, helping Denver take an 89-75 lead into the fourth quarter.
Portland made another run at the Nuggets, opening the final period with an 8-1 surge capped by Bayless' three-point play, pulling the Trail Blazers to 90-83 with 9:58 remaining.
The Nuggets responded with their transition game, getting fast-break layups from Anthony Carter and Billups followed with a driving layup by Smith to open a 96-83 lead with 8:29 left to play.
Again, the Trail Blazers pulled within seven when Rudy Fernandez hit a 3-pointer with 3:58 left. But Arron Afflalo made a pair of free throws and, after a missed layup by Miller, Smith hit a crucial 3-pointer for a 112-100 Nuggets lead with 2:40 remaining and Portland did not get the close again.
With Anthony scoring 19 of his points in the first half, the Nuggets led by 21 points and were in front 66-49 at halftime.
The Nuggets closed the first period with a 13-5 run, pulling ahead 34-21 on Anthony's 18-foot jumper just before the end of the period. Afflalo's third 3-pointer of the game put the Nuggets up 64-43 with 1:31 left in the second, but the Trail Blazers narrowed the gap by scoring six of eight points before the halftime buzzer.
Notes: Johan Petro had a game-high 10 rebounds in his first start of the season for the Nuggets. ... Portland had come in a season-high 10 games over .500. ... Despite the loss, the Trail Blazers still have a winning road record (17-15).