Melo’s Shot Lifts Nuggets Past Pacers
Denver 101, Indiana 99
INDIANAPOLIS, March 15 (Ticker) -- The Denver Nuggets nearly gave away a win, but Carmelo Anthony would not let them.
Anthony scored 31 points, including a jumper with 2.2 seconds left that gave the Nuggets a 101-99 victory over the Indiana Pacers, who lost another close game.
"Melo is on a great run right now," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "Since the All-Star break, he's had a run of about 12-13 games that's he's played great. Sometimes we need him to rebound a little bit better, but he's our guy at the end of the game and he's our horse on offense."
The Pacers spent the second half inching closer and closer to the Nuggets and finally caught them at 99-99 on a 3-pointer by Anthony Johnson with 1:10 remaining.
Anthony, who made 12-of-25 shots, missed a drive but got another chance when Stephen Jackson missed a jumper for Indiana. Isolating on the right side, Anthony fired an 18-footer over rookie Danny Granger that silenced Conseco Fieldhouse.
"All I needed was a little bit of space," Anthony said. "I knew they were coming to me. The play was designed for me to get the ball in my comfort zone in the mid-post. Once I saw they weren't coming to double, I just got a little space, rose up, and made sure I shot it well."
"Carmelo is a big-time player and he hit a big-time shot," Jackson said. "We had a slow start and got back into it. We gave ourselves a chance to win, which is all you can ask for. ... But it came down to a big shot at the end and he hit it."
Sharpshooter Peja Stojakovic saw his potential game-winning 3-pointer go in and out at the buzzer as the Pacers lost for the fourth time in six games.
"It felt good," Stojakovic said. "It felt really good, but it went in and out. It's a tough loss. We were right there after fighting hard in the second half to tie it, then Anthony hits the shot at the end. It's just another one that we've lost in the last seconds."
"It was scary to watch Peja shoot that last one," Nuggets forward Ruben Patterson said. "I was standing under the basket and I thought that one was going in."
Four of Indiana's last five losses have come by a combined 11 points. The team is 4-6 in games decided by three points or less and 6-17 in games decided by five or less.
Trailing, 82-74, at the start of the fourth quarter, the Pacers closed to 86-82 on a three-point play by David Harrison with eight minutes left. Anthony answered with his own three-point play as he drove through the 7-foot Harrison, who was bloodied, argued the call and received a technical foul.
Indiana kept coming, pulling within 97-96 on a 3-pointer by Stojakovic with 2:29 to play. Anthony overpowered Granger for a driving layup 22 seconds later.
"(Granger) was keeping me busy tonight, banging on me a little, Anthony said. "He and Harrison and (Jeff) Foster ... they all banged me around tonight.
Patterson scored 14 points and Marcus Camby added 10, 13 rebounds and seven blocks for the Nuggets (37-29), who shot 51 percent (40-of-78) and opened a six-game lead over Utah atop the weak Northwest Division.
"We just kept playing hard," Patterson said. "They were fighting to get back in it and Andre and Carmelo hit some big shots down the stretch."
Stojakovic scored 22 points and Jackson added 21 for the Pacers (32-30), which fell one-half game behind Washington into sixth place in the Eastern Conference. Indiana has not missed the playoffs since 1997.
The Nuggets jumped out to leads of 6-0 and 21-10 before assuming a 32-21 advantage after one period. They shot a sizzling 58 percent (26-of-45) in the first half and extended the margin to 61-47 at halftime behind 12 points from Patterson and 11 each from Anthony and Andre Miller.
"They play an advanced stage of pick-up basketball," Johnson said. "They're catching outlet passes at halfcourt and attacking the rim. If you're on your heels or celebrate too long, they're going to make you pay. You have to give them credit."