Denver 125, New Jersey 114

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., March 21 (AP) -- Allen Iverson and three not as well-known backups got the Denver Nuggets a much needed win.

Iverson had 26 points, nine assists, and combined with Linas Kleiza, JR Smith and Eduardo Najera on a 14-1 fourth-quarter spurt that carried the Nuggets to a 125-114 victory over the New Jersey Nets on Friday night.

"We've been struggling, losing two on the road and we just wanted to do anything to get a win,'' Iverson said after scoring 21 second-half points to help the Nuggets break a two-game losing streak.

The Nuggets needed every one of those points after blowing a 17-point third-quarter lead and eventually falling behind by two.

"Welcome to Denver Nuggets land,'' coach George Karl said. "We play so fast, sometimes it's good and sometimes it's dangerous.''

Iverson and company made sure this one didn't slip away.

Iverson and Smith each hit two free throws in the final minute to put Denver ahead 93-90 entering the final quarter.

The start of the fourth quarter belonged to the Nuggets. Iverson and Smith hit driving layups and Kleiza hit a floater in the lane and a drive to push the advantage to 101-90. Najera hit a 3-pointer and Iverson converted a three-point play after Carter hit a free throw for a 107-91 lead.

"My teammates hitting shots opened it up for me,'' Iverson said. "Once JR and L.K. hit shots that enabled me to get in the lane and make shots.''

Karl could not say enough about Kleiza, Smith and Najera.

"It was one of those nights where our bench needed to come through and we did,'' said Kleiza, who scored 23 points on 9 of 11 shooting, including 5 of 7 from long range.

Marcus Camby added 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Nuggets, while former Net Kenyon Martin and Carmelo Anthony had 17 points apiece.

Vince Carter scored 32 points and Richard Jefferson added 29 for the Nets, who fell a half-game behind idle Atlanta in the race for the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. Devin Harris added 16 points and a career-high 13 assists for New Jersey, which lost at home for the third time in 11 games.

Trailing 78-61 early in the third quarter, Carter led a 27-8 spurt that put New Jersey ahead 88-86 when Harris hit two free throws with 1:39 left in the quarter.

Kleiza took some of the steam out of the Nets with the fourth 3-pointers, putting Denver ahead 89-88.

Carter, who had 13 points in the quarter, hit two free throws to give the Nets their last lead at 90-89 with 1:11 to go.

Iverson, Kleiza, Smith and Najera took over after that.

New Jersey, which never got close after the Nuggets fourth-quarter run, got 19 points out of its bench.

"We showed some fight and got back into the game,'' Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "But we are trying to win these games and for us, we just have to fight a little bit harder on the defensive end.''

Notes: Nets C Nenad Krstic returned to the lineup after missing two games with the flu. ... The Nuggets shot 54 percent from the field and almost 44 percent (7-of-16) from 3-point range. ... Anthony scored only four points after the first quarter.


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