Denver 120, Memphis 106

MEMPHIS, Tenn., March 24 (AP) - Allen Iverson had 26 points and seven assists, while Carmelo Anthony finished with 23 points as the Denver Nuggets used a big second half to defeat the Memphis Grizzlies 120-106 on Monday night.

J.R. Smith led the Nuggets, scoring 25 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter, as Denver stretched the lead to as many as 22 in winning its third straight. Smith was 8-of-10 in the period, including seven outside the arc.

Rudy Gay led Memphis with 30 points, while Hakim Warrick finished with a season-high 29. Mike Miller added 19 and Javaris Crittenton 14.

Memphis led at halftime, but the Nuggets outscored the Grizzlies 37-22 in the third period to build their lead to 14. Memphis was unable to overcome the deficit, particularly after Smith scored 16 points, including 13 straight for Denver, by the midway point of the fourth for a 109-95 lead, matching Denver's biggest margin of the night at that point.

The loss snapped Memphis' two-game winning streak.

Denver, fighting for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference, trails Golden State by one game.

Memphis, which had won three of its previous four, had no answer for the Nuggets after halftime as Denver connected on 24 of 40 shots. The Nuggets already had built the lead in the third quarter, and then it was as if the Grizzlies couldn't find Smith. He had open looks outside the arc and helped Denver continue to extend the lead.

Memphis overcame early defensive lapses to erase a Denver lead and carry a 57-51 advantage into the break.

Warrick, who missed only one of his seven shots in the half, scored 17, while Gay had 15.

Iverson led Denver with 11, but was 3-of-11 from the field. Anthony, Camby and Iverson were a combined 8-of-25 in the half.

The Nuggets were getting to the rim in the first quarter on dunks by Kenyon Martin, who finished with 14 points, and assists by Iverson leading to inside baskets. Memphis didn't get back on defense several times, leading to easy scores as the Nuggets shot 55 percent early and held a 14-4 advantage in the paint.

But Memphis scored in a variety of ways from dunks by Gay to Warrick hitting jumpers from 15 to 20 feet. That allowed Memphis to erase the early Nuggets advantage, and lead by as many as nine in the second quarter.

Denver turned up the defensive pressure to open the second half, blocking shots and causing Memphis turnovers. Martin, who missed only one of his eight shots, still was getting loose for dunks, and the Nuggets shot better from the outside. Meanwhile, Memphis was missing seven of it first eight shots in the period.

Anthony had 14 in the quarter, while Iverson added 11 as the Nuggets pulled away for their biggest lead at that point, 14 points, and led 88-79 at the end of three periods.

Notes: The Grizzlies were hoping for their third straight win. Memphis has not had a three-game winning streak since the end of the 2006-07 season. ... Anthony was called for a technical late in the second quarter after arguing with official Pat Fraher when Anthony was called for a foul. ... Miller recorded his 11th double-double of the season. ... Gay nailed a 39-footer as the horn sounded to end the third period. Officials confirmed the basket after reviewing the play. ... Miller tied his season high with 14 rebounds.

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