Anthony lifts Nuggets past 76ers

February 18, 2009 8:01:28 PM PST
Carmelo Anthony had 26 points and 14 rebounds, Chauncey Billups added 22 points and the Denver Nuggets won their third straight game, 101-89 over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night. The Northwest Division leaders looked sluggish in the first half and Denver's poor shooting seemed indicative of a team coming off a six-day layoff.

Anthony and Billups wouldn't stay cold for long, shooting a combined 8-for-15 from the floor in the third quarter to help the Nuggets overcome a 16-point deficit.

Andre Miller led the Sixers with 17 points, but strained his right calf with about 7½ minutes left in the third quarter.

Billups scored 17 points in the third quarter - 13 during a 24-4 run that erased a 10-point deficit and gave Denver a 61-51 lead. He kicked off the run with a three-point play and when he nailed a 3-pointer that tied the score at 47, the Nuggets wiped out a 16-point first-half deficit. Billups snapped a tie with a 3 that made it 52-49 and put Denver ahead for good.

Kenyon Martin capped the game-changing spurt with a three-point play and scored a layup off an assist from - who else? - Billups. The Nuggets shot a woeful 21 percent in the first quarter (Billups and Anthony were 2-for-9), then made 55 percent of their shots in the third to start to pull away.

Each team trudged to the line a combined 71 games and the game dragged to the finish. The Sixers were 29 of 39 and Denver went 23-for-32.

Billups was acquired to fill need of an unselfish guard the Nuggets sorely lacked when they had Allen Iverson. Iverson was acquired in 2006 from the 76ers for Miller - the only player left for Philadelphia involved in that blockbuster deal.

Miller has been everything the Sixers could have wanted out of their point guard and led them in 2008 to their first playoff appearance in three years. His name had popped up in trade rumors, though, because he is in the final year of his contract and has not stated a public desire to re-sign with Philadelphia. He's also never said he wanted to leave.

Coach Tony DiLeo said before the game he did not expect Miller to be dealt before Thursday's league trade deadline. DiLeo, though, could need a replacement anyway.

Miller pulled up as he chased after the ball and immediately grabbed his calf and ankle. He took a seat on the bench at the next timeout.

Miller will likely be in the lineup Saturday at Miami. He's played in 501 straight games, the longest active streak in the NBA, and has missed only three games in a 10-year career.

Miller scored 11 points in the second quarter to help Philadelphia take a 47-37 lead into halftime.

Then it completely unraveled. They pulled within five early in the fourth quarter, only to watch Anthony score a couple of buckets that made it 83-70 and put the game away.

Sixers leading scorer Andre Iguodala made only one field goal and scored 10 points before fouling out in the fourth quarter. Samuel Dalembert and Marresse Speights both had double-doubles for the Sixers.

Notes: The Sixers have lost two straight after winning four straight entering the All-Star break. ... The Sixers play their next four on the road.

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