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Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010

Billups, Afflalo lift injury-plagued Nuggets past 'Cats

DENVER (AP) Shaking off injuries and an ejection, the Denver Nuggets leaned on Chauncey Billups and two role players for a rousing victory.

News photo
Hands-on defense: Cleveland's LeBron James is wrapped up by Miami's Udonis Haslem as he shoots over the Heat's Quentin Richardson on Monday night. AP PHOTO

"I'm a big believer that injuries can be positive," Denver coach George Karl said after Monday night's 104-93 win over the Charlotte Bobcats. "It was fun coaching the game. We had a play-hard intensity to us that we need every night. Some guys that haven't played gave us that. That's a compliment to them."

Stephen Jackson had 22 points and Gerald Wallace added 20 for the Bobcats, who lost their third in a row since a franchise-tying six-game winning streak.

Picking up the offensive slack in the absence of leading scorer Carmelo Anthony (ankle), Billups scored 27 points and Aaron Afflalo matched a career high with 24 points in Denver's season-high seventh straight win.

The Nuggets also lost forward Kenyon Martin to an ejection late in the second quarter when he argued with officials over a foul call against teammate J.R. Smith. Early in the fourth, Chris Andersen got his feet tangled underneath the basket and crashed to the floor with a sprained ankle. The injury knocked him out for the rest of the game. Andersen is day to day.

But Denver got 13 points from Joey Graham, making a rare start in place of the injured Anthony, and little-used Malik Allen brought tough defensive play and rebounding in 20 minutes on the floor in place of Martin and Andersen. Nene chipped in with 17 points and Smith, who drew management's ire by sulking on the bench last Saturday against New Orleans, contributed 12 points.

Grizzlies 99, Magic 94

In Memphis, Zach Randolph had 23 points and 19 rebounds, and O.J. Mayo added 20 points as the Grizzlies won their 11th straight home game.

Marc Gasol added 19 points, and Rudy Gay had 15 for Memphis. Mike Conley finished with 14 points and seven assists for the Grizzlies, who snapped Orlando's three-game winning streak.

With the victory, Memphis matched its 24-win total from last season.

Dwight Howard led Orlando with 27 points, 15 rebounds and six blocks.

Cavaliers 92, Heat 91

In Miami, LeBron James hit two free throws for the winning points after a scary tumble with 4.1 seconds left as Eastern Conference-leading Cleveland edged the hosts.

Dwyane Wade, who missed a jump shot at the buzzer, finished with 32 points for the Heat, all but two of them in what was an epic first-half shootout between superstars. But he missed two big free throws with 41.2 seconds left, part of a 1-of-6 showing from the line by the Heat in the fourth quarter — and it cost Miami dearly.

Shaquille O'Neal scored 19, Daniel Gibson had 15 and Anderson Varejao finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds for Cleveland.

Celtics 95, Clippers 89

In Boston, Paul Pierce scored 22 points and Rajon Rondo had 16 points and 12 assists to lead the Celtics to a win on a TD Garden floor that had to be continually wiped because of condensation.

Pacers 109, 76ers 98

In Philadelphia, Danny Granger scored 26 points and Dahntay Jones had 18 points as Indiana earned a split of the home-and-away series with the Sixers.

Hawks 102, Rockets 95

In Houston, Josh Smith had 22 points and 10 rebounds as Atlanta snapped a 10-game losing streak in Houston.

Aaron Brooks scored 15 points and had five assists and Carl Landry added 16 points for the Rockets.

Bulls 98, Spurs 93

In San Antonio, Derrick Rose shook off flulike symptoms to score 27 points as Chicago beat the Spurs for its third straight win.

Tony Parker scored 20 points for San Antonio, which has lost five of six. Manu Ginobili scored 14 but was denied twice while barreling to the rim in the final 33 seconds.

Jazz 124, Suns 115

In Salt Lake City, Carlos Boozer had 21 points and 20 rebounds, and rookie Wesley Matthews scored 10 of his career-high 21 points in the fourth quarter as Utah rallied for a win.

Phoenix point guard Steve Nash had 15 points and 15 assists, making him the eighth player in NBA history to surpass 8,000 assists.

Hornets 98, Trail Blazers 97

In Portland, Chris Paul made a 4.8-meter jump shot with 3.8 seconds remaining to lift New Orleans over the Blazers.

Paul led all scorers with 24 points and had 12 assists.

Juwan Howard and LaMarcus Aldridge had 16 points apiece for Portland.

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