DENVER, Dec. 31 (Ticker) --
forever will remember New
Year's Eve 2004 as the night he earned his first NBA coaching
scored eight of his 24 points in the fourth
quarter and the Denver Nuggets rallied to make Cooper's coaching
debut a successful one with a 97-92 victory over the
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Cooper was named interim coach Tuesday, when the Nuggets fired
Jeff Bzdelik in the midst of a six-game losing streak. In his
first game at the helm, he directed a fourth-quarter run to end
the calendar year on a winning note.
"What a game," Cooper said. "I have been preaching defense all
week, and the game came down to the defense. I am really proud
of these guys."
Anthony, who returned to the lineup after missing the past five
games due to a left ankle sprain, hit two 3-pointers during a
10-0 surge, the second to tie the game, 79-79, with 7:07 left.
Less than a minute later, he made another jumper and DerMarrJohnson's
free throw gave Denver its first lead since the
opening quarter, 82-81.
"This win was great to get one for us and to get one for Coach
Cooper," Anthony said. "We wanted to play relaxed and with
confidence. Coach wanted us to focus on defense, and we did
Johnson scored seven of his 18 points in the fourth and put the
Nuggets on top for good, 89-87, with a 3-pointer with just over
two minutes left.
"Victory, that's all we play for," Johnson said. "Coach said we
have to win games on defense and get more rebounds."
Denver held Philadelphia under 100 points for the first time in
nine games. The loss snapped a five-game road winning streak
for the Sixers.
Sixers guard Allen Iverson
scored 14 of his 29 points in the
first quarter and dished out eight assists but was just 1-of-6
in the fourth and missed 3-of-5 free throws in the final 9:18.
"We were trying to put the ball in Allen's hands and he got
fouled," Philadelphia coach Jim O'Brien
said. "We got the shots
we wanted and executed fairly well down the stretch. It just
didn't fall our way."
Sixers forward Kyle Korver
had a chance to tie the game with a
3-pointer with three seconds left, but the shot bounced off the
back of the rim.
"It was as good of a look as you can expect," Korver said. "I
thought I made it, but it wasn't meant to be, I guess."
Philadelphia led by 11 with less than 10 minutes left before
Denver made its final push, aided by 10 turnovers by the Sixers.
"I didn't think our decision making was good down the stretch
and in the fourth quarter," said Korver. "We were playing like
we were tired, so it's our fault."
Iverson is averaging 32.8 points through the first four games of
Philadelphia's eight-game road trip. His efforts led the
Sixers to wins in their first three contests but were not enough
in this one as they failed to win a fourth straight game for
the third time this season.
Denver center Marcus Camby
made 4-of-5 shots before leaving with
a hyperextension of his lower back late in the first quarter.
He helped the Nuggets race to a 16-2 lead, but soon after he was
hurt, Philadelphia went on a 17-0 run en route to a 52-46
The Nuggets travel to Los Angeles to meet the Lakers on Sunday.
But Cooper will savor his first win before the meeting with his
"The team gave me the game ball," Cooper said. "I have had game
balls given to me in the past and I've kept them all. This one
will go high on my mantle with the others."