Denver 124, Boston 118

DENVER, Feb. 19 (AP) -- Carmelo Anthony scored 29 points, Allen Iverson added 28 and the Denver Nuggets spoiled the return of Kevin Garnett, holding on for a 124-118 victory over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night.

Denver also halted the Celtics' dominance over Western Conference teams this season, snapping their string of 16 straight wins.

"I don't look at it as we beat the best team in the league, a win is a win,'' Iverson said. "Obviously, we can compete with anybody. No one seems to know how much talent we have. We have enough talent to scare some people, but we just have to bring it night in and night out.''

Garnett, who had been out since Jan. 25 with a strained abdominal muscle, wasn't his flashy self, finishing with four points on 2-of-7 shooting in close to 21 minutes of action. He also had eight rebounds.

"It was good to get back,'' said Garnett, who planned to play Wednesday night at Golden State. "It felt good.''

Garnett said he was feeling a little winded toward the end. He chalked it up to the Mile High City.

"There wasn't a lot of air out there,'' he said.

Paul Pierce scored 24 points, Rajon Rondo added 22 and Leon Powe had 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Celtics, who had won five straight.

`, fresh off his 28-point performance at Sunday's All-Star game, scored 14 of his 20 points in the first quarter. He went 2-for-10 after the opening 12 minutes.

Garnett cut a once 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to 105-104 on a dunk with 3:35 remaining, but Denver reeled off six straight points, including a 3-pointer by Marcus Camby, to build the lead back up.

Camby finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds and Kenyon Martin had 19 points for Denver, which won for the fourth time in five games.

Garnett came in averaging 19.2 points and 9.9 rebounds this season, and anchoring a Celtics defense that's allowing an NBA-low 89.4 points per game.

However, the Nuggets dictated the pace of play, scoring the most points against the Celtics this season. The previous high was 114 points scored by Toronto and Cleveland.

Linas Kleiza hit back-to-back 3-pointers midway through the final quarter to give Denver a 101-91 lead. Kleiza finished with 11 points. He didn't immediately come out of the locker room after halftime due to a sprained left ankle.

Notes: The Suns and Nuggets will play an outdoor game in Indian Wells, Calif., during the 2008-09 preseason. Camby said he may have to work on his jumper to make it more aerodynamic. "I have a high release - it's probably not too good outdoors,'' he said. ... Celtics F Brian Scalabrine was out with a strained right groin. ... Boston coach Doc Rivers had to leave practice the day before because of an illness. He said he was feeling better. ... Denver is 22-6 at the Pepsi Center this season.


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