DENVER(AP) The hometown kid had quite the homecoming - with a little help from Carmelo Anthony.
Chauncey Billups made a triumphant return to the Nuggets with 15 points, Anthony scored 28 and Denver beat the Dallas Mavericks 108-105 on Friday night.
Billups also had three assists and three steals, including two down the stretch.
"It feels great to be home,'' the Denver native said.
Now if he could just get used to the thin air again.
"I got a little winded,'' Billups admitted. "The altitude had me winded.''
Billups played more than 30 minutes and struggled with his shot, going 5-for-17 from the floor.
But he made up for it with his defense.
"I'm sure he'll have many special nights for us,'' Nuggets coach George Karl said. "I think it's fun to have an ally in Chauncey.''
Jason Kidd finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists for the Mavericks.
However, he missed a crucial free throw that could've tied the game with 21 seconds remaining.
That didn't sit well with the point guard.
"I missed a free throw, we turned the ball in some key situations when we got a stop. This was a lesson learned,'' Kidd said.
Billups learned a lesson about his new teammates - such as Anthony can be clutch under pressure.
Anthony hit four big free throws in the final 12 seconds, and all 14 he took for the game.
After Jason Terry's 3-pointer cut Denver's lead to 106-105, Anthony made two foul shots with 0.4 seconds remaining to seal the win.
"Melo, of course, is pretty much unstoppable,'' Billups said. "We've got a lot of weapons. I think if we can lock in and get everyone on the same page we can be dangerous.''
Billups, Antonio McDyess and Cheikh Samb were acquired from Detroit in exchange for Allen Iverson earlier in the week.
However, McDyess' days in Denver are done.
His agent, Andy Miller, said the two sides have reached an agreement in which the forward will be bought out of his contract.
Miller didn't want to speculate about McDyess' future, saying they needed to get over this hurdle first.
"We're just real appreciative of (the Nuggets') flexibility,'' said Miller, who was on hand to watch Billups' homecoming.
Samb suited up but didn't get into the game.
Since his first stint with the Nuggets from 1998-2000, Billups has blossomed into a pure guard, the floor general Karl has been craving since the team dealt away Andre Miller to acquire Iverson nearly two years ago.
Anthony gave Billups his stamp of approval.
Then again, Billups really didn't do anything that wasn't expected.
"I think he came in tonight and gave us the leadership from a point guard's standpoint,'' Anthony said.
Gerald Green scored all of his 13 points in the final period, Dirk Nowitzki finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds, and Brandon Bass had 12 points and 10 boards.
Green's torrid shooting kept the Mavericks close. He provided a spark when the team was down as many as 10 in the fourth quarter.
"I've been told to stay ready to play - all the time,'' Green said. "I was ready. I just try to provide energy and take what the game gives me.''
Billups' homecoming party was an all-night affair.
He was honored with an ovation before the game.
Then, just before tipoff, Billups grabbed a microphone and addressed the capacity crowd.
"I'm fully committed to trying to lead this team to a championship caliber,'' he said, drawing more applause from the audience.
Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey then brought out the game ball, wearing a Billups jersey with No. 7 on the back. Billups is donning the number in honor of John Elway.
There was a video tribute to him at the end of the first quarter, including shots of students at his former elementary, middle and high schools all welcoming him back, not to mention the players at the University of Colorado.
"There aren't many players that get welcomed home like that,'' Karl said.
Notes: Dallas put up 35 3-pointers, the most attempts against the Nuggets in regulation since the Mavericks shot 37 on Feb. 29, 1996. ... Kidd hit six 3-pointers. ... Dallas had a season-high 17 turnovers. ... Nene finished with 19 and J.R. Smith added 15 off the bench.