Denver 115, Golden State 112

OAKLAND, Calif., Nov. 22 (AP) -- George Karl's Denver team is far from where the coach wants it, squeaking out wins in spite of its struggles in crunch time.

Carmelo Anthony had 33 points and nine rebounds, and the Nuggets held off the Golden State Warriors 115-112 on Wednesday night for their third straight victory.

``We're not executing with much composure down the stretch,'' Karl said. ``We're still winning games, and as I've told people, the improvements we need to make can be made. Right now the team has to stay set on getting better.''

After Mickael Pietrus hit two free throws with 37 seconds left, Anthony was whistled for an offensive foul on the other end, giving Golden State a chance to tie. Pietrus and Monta Ellis both missed 3-point tries in the final 10 seconds.

``That was the shot we wanted,'' Pietrus said. ``Sometimes you miss, sometimes you make. That's like life sometimes.''

But Andre Miller failed on two free throws with 1.9 seconds left and the Warriors had one final chance - yet Mike Dunleavy missed a desperation 3 at the buzzer under pressure.

Anthony hit six of his first seven shots, went 12-for-18 on the night and also added four assists and three steals in his seventh 30-point performance in eight games, helping the Nuggets sustain a late Golden State rally.

``We've been in that situation in every game we've played so far in the fourth quarter,'' Anthony said. ``It came down to our defense. Everybody's got to step up.''

Jason Richardson had a steal and breakaway dunk with 6:50 to play for the Warriors that made it a two-point game and Troy Murphy's 3-pointer tied it at 102 with 5:34 left. The Warriors got several key rebounds late from Andris Biedrins, who had a career-high seven blocks.

Marcus Camby had 14 points and 16 rebounds and Miller added 17 points and 10 assists for the Nuggets, who showed few signs of being fatigued from playing on back-to-back nights - aside from committing 25 turnovers.

Richardson, who has struggled so far coming off arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in August, pulled out some of his impressive old moves and had to like the results: He had a powerful one-handed slam in the second quarter and a pretty reverse layup in the third on which he pump faked to drop his defender. He finished with a season-high 24 points, eight rebounds, six assists and four steals in a solid all-around effort.

``I just try to bring energy. We didn't have it tonight,'' Richardson said.

Golden State leading scorer Baron Davis returned to the lineup after not dressing in a 113-110 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Monday night. He was banged in the ribs during last Saturday's game against Seattle.

Ellis, a 21-year-old second-year guard, had 11 points and a career-high nine assists after back-to-back 31-point performances.

Pietrus scored six straight points with three-point plays on consecutive possessions, pulling the Warriors within 93-89 with 10:33 remaining. The first sequence featured Pietrus hitting three free throws.

The Warriors concluded their season-high, seven-game homestand with a second straight defeat. Golden State had its six-game home winning streak snapped against the Suns.

``It was probably one of our best defensive games if you take away our turnovers,'' Karl said. ``I don't think they played very efficiently against our defense.''

Karl wanted to get some more minutes for Yakhouba Diawara after Miller played 41 minutes Tuesday night. Miller still logged 39 minutes, 56 seconds.

Murphy also returned to the starting lineup for the first time since Nov. 11 after playing 11 minutes Monday following three games on the sidelines with a sore left Achilles' tendon. He had 17 points and seven boards but the Warriors were outrebounded 54-34.

Warriors center Adonal Foyle received loud cheers when he checked in for the first time with 8:57 remaining in the third quarter. He scored moments later and the crowd went wild, then grabbed a rebound on the other end to more applause. Foyle had played only five minutes - in one game - in Golden State's previous five contests.

The Nuggets hit 15 of their 25 (60 percent) first-quarter shots to build a 34-26 lead and led by as many as 10 before the Warriors worked their way back into it and pulled within 61-58 at the break.

Notes: Joe Smith had a great block of Pietrus late in the second quarter. ... Denver G Earl Boykins, nursing the flu, didn't travel with the team as he recovers. ``Very early we knew he wasn't coming,'' Karl said. ... The Nuggets' Nene, who missed his sixth straight game, had an MRI in recent days on his bruised right knee. ``It was good. It was positive,'' Karl said. ... Denver F Eduardo Najera was whistled for a technical for arguing late in the second. ... Ellis is the Warriors' lone player to score in double figures in all 12 games.

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