Denver 125, Milwaukee 105

DENVER, Dec. 26 (AP) -- The stat sheet and smiles told the story: The Denver Nuggets are finally at full strength.

In their best all-around effort of the season, the Nuggets beat the Milwaukee Bucks 125-105 on Wednesday night behind a triple-double by Marcus Camby, Carmelo Anthony's fourth straight double-double, Allen Iverson's spectacular 24-point performance and the much-awaited return of power forward Nene.

"If we play like that, unselfish, getting the ball to the open man, we'll win a lot of games and we'll go far this season,'' said Nene, who had 11 points and seven rebounds in his first game since tearing a ligament in his left thumb at Boston on Nov. 7.

So much fun were the Nuggets having in toying with the Bucks that Camby declared just before the start of the fourth quarter that he was going to reach his first triple-double in nine seasons by setting up behind the arc and letting loose.

"They told me I was three points away and I was upset with myself because I missed some layups and free throws earlier and I said to myself, `If I get a chance, I'm going to let it go,''' Camby said. "And luckily it went in.''

The ninth 3-pointer of his eight-year NBA career gave him 10 points to go with his 10 blocked shots and 11 rebounds and sent him to the bench alongside 'Melo to enjoy a rare runaway win.

"The numbers are fine. I'm thinking more of the way we played, the way we came out with a defensive mind-set when we built a 30-point halftime and we never let up,'' Camby said. "We played well.''

It was Camby's third career triple-double and his first since April 19, 1998, against Philadelphia. His 10 blocks were the most by an NBA player this season and the most by a Denver player since Dikembe Mutombo had 10 against Minnesota on Dec. 2, 1995.

Iverson said Camby is the key to the Nuggets' season.

"As he goes, we go,'' Iverson said. "He takes up so much responsibility, he enables me to be one of the top guys in the league with steals because I can gamble a lot with Marcus back there and not pay for it. I can take those risks. It's a luxury having him out there, blocked shots, rebounding, and then he can give you some points, too.

"My concern is never our offense because we can score with the best of them,'' Iverson added. "If we get any type of defensive mentality, and we take it personally night in and night out, teams are not going to score big on us, and we can be dangerous.''

Anthony, who had four double-doubles last season and six so far this year, finished with 29 points and 10 rebounds in 31 minutes.

Mo Williams scored 22 of his 28 points in the third quarter to lead Milwaukee. Yi Jianlian, the 7-foot rookie forward from China who was coming off a career-high 29 points against Charlotte, was stifled all night and had eight points on 2-of-11 shooting.

With a 68-38 halftime lead, the Nuggets played it safe with Kenyon Martin, who returned from a two-game absence since straining his right hamstring on Dec. 20. He got treatment at halftime but the Nuggets said the muscle was only fatigued and not re-injured. He didn't score any points in eight minutes.

The Nuggets led by 30 points at halftime and by as many as 39 in the second half.

"We looked like we lost our mojo,'' Bucks coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "It all comes down to playing hard. We discussed it and I'm not going to air a bunch of dirty laundry for what's going on behind closed doors. ... I don't know if we assumed the game would be easier than it was. It was an avalanche. It absolutely buried us.''

The Nuggets are counting on having many more nights like this one, regardless of the opponent.

"Just to see the way we played tonight, we can be exciting,'' Iverson said. "We've got a lot of guys that got a lot of speed and can get up and down the court. We've got a lot of guys that can jump. We've got a lot of guys with flash in their game.''

Notes: The Bucks have lost 14 of their last 17 games in Denver. ... Ten of Camby's rebounds came on the defensive end.


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