DENVER(AP) J.R. Smith and Linas Kleiza each scored 19 points and hit big free throws in overtime Wednesday night, leading the Denver Nuggets past the Utah Jazz 120-119 in a preseason game.
Deron Williams tuned up for his homecoming at Champaign, Ill., by scoring 22 points and collecting eight assists for Utah. Next up for the Jazz superstar is a trip to face the Chicago Bulls on Friday night at Assembly Hall on the Illini campus, where Williams is revered for leading the Illini to the 2005 NCAA championship game, where they lost to North Carolina.
Williams looked ready for the regular season, sinking eight of 11 shots from the floor and all six of his free throws. His three-point play gave the Jazz an 88-83 lead heading into the fourth quarter, where Denver's subs fought back to send the game into overtime.
Kleiza's two foul shots with 3.5 seconds left in overtime made it a four-point game, and rookie Kosta Koufos sank a 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds left. The Nuggets inbounded and the buzzer sounded.
Denver led 107-106 with 31 seconds left in the fourth quarter when Ruben Patterson, apparently still smarting from his sixth foul earlier in the quarter, was whistled for a technical for saying something to the officials from the Nuggets bench. Morris Almond sank the free throw, and the teams exchanged more free throws until it was tied at 109 after regulation.
Carmelo Anthony, who sat out Denver's first two exhibition games with a bruised ring finger on his non-shooting hand, pledged after winning a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics that he would turn up his defense this year, and he made good on his promise in his first action of the preseason.
'Melo had three steals in the first quarter, including one right before the buzzer, when he fired up a halfcourt shot that rimmed out.
He finished with 16 points and five rebounds in 26 minutes, his first game action since the Americans beat Spain in the gold medal game in China.
'Melo and Kenyon Martin (16 points) were the only Denver starters who actually started because of a rash of injuries, and Martin was manning the post because the Nuggets were out of big men.
Nene banged his right elbow in practice Tuesday and sat out along with Steven Hunter (knee) and Chris Anderson (calf). Also, Allen Iverson sat out a second straight game with a sore left knee.
Utah was missing starter Matt Harpring and late in the second quarter lost guard C.J. Miles with a cut over his right eye that required six stitches. He re-entered in the final minutes of the fourth quarter and finished with 12 points.
Notes: The Nuggets play their final four exhibitions on the road. ... The Jazz plays its next two against the Bulls.