Bobcats 107, Nuggets 95
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)
The winner of the matchup featuring the NBA's top scoring team and player against the league's top defensive unit: the hard-to-figure Charlotte Bobcats.
Gerald Wallace had 25 points and 16 rebounds and the Bobcats frustrated Carmelo Anthony and Denver in a 107-95 victory Tuesday night that snapped the Nuggets' four-game winning streak.
Anthony, the NBA's leading scorer, had 34 points and seven rebounds, but Wallace outplayed him down the stretch and a frustrated Anthony picked up a technical foul with just under a minute left to help seal Charlotte's second straight win.
Stephen Jackson added 25 points, seven rebounds, six assists and helped keep Anthony scoreless over the final 4 minutes as Charlotte closed on a 20-8 run.
``You have to make a guy like that work,'' Jackson said. ``You can't stop him completely. He's going to get calls and he's the leading scorer in the league. You just want to make it as difficult as possible.''
Called for a foul on Jackson with 52.6 seconds left, an upset Anthony drew a technical foul - his second in as many nights. Jackson hit all three free throws to put Charlotte up 102-93.
The Nuggets, playing without injured forward Kenyon Martin, lost for only the second time in 10 games.
``It was just one of those nights where they had everything going for them,'' Anthony said. ``They made shots. They got to the free throw line. They got to the boards. A lot of little things helped them win this game.''
So the team that remains best known for being the first to lose to New Jersey after the Nets' record-worst 0-18 start, notched a second win over a division leader. The Bobcats are 8-3 at home with a victory over Cleveland.
``I think our defense has always been good,'' Wallace said.
In a matchup of the NBA's highest-scoring team (Denver, 109.7 points a game) and the league's stingiest team (Charlotte, 90.4 points allowed), spurts were dictated by pace.
Anthony did most of his damage in transition and by getting to the foul line on drives. The Nuggets had trouble defending Wallace in the halfcourt, and both players attempted 11 free throws.
Coming in averaging 29.6 points a game, Anthony scored a season-low 14 on 5-of-21 shooting a night earlier in Philadelphia. He regained his touch, but Denver struggled without Martin, who dislocated his left pinkie against the 76ers.
Joey Graham, twin brother of Bobcats forward Stephen Graham, started in Martin's spot and Denver fell behind 21-14. Chris Andersen played a lot of late minutes, and the Bobcats attacked him defensively. Raymond Felton twice beat him to the hoop on drives, the second layup putting Charlotte ahead 95-89 with 3:24 left.
``Kenyon does a great job of reads. Tonight they scored a lot of points in the paint, especially in the first half,'' Nuggets coach George Karl said. ``I think their penetration surprised us.''
Wallace, the NBA's leading rebounder, had his 13th double-double. His putback of his own miss over Anthony with 1:50 left gave Charlotte a 97-91 lead.
``He was great. He's been great,'' Bobcats coach Larry Brown said. ``Gerald and Jack and Raymond really kept us in the game.''
Flip Murray, 10 of 45 from the field and 8 of 17 from the foul line in the past six games, hit two free throws and a 3-pointer at the end of the half to help Charlotte to a 54-49 lead despite center Tyson Chandler again getting into foul trouble.
Nazr Mohammed made up for Chandler's woes by hitting 9 of 10 free throws and scoring 15 points. Murray had 10 points and Charlotte hit 31 of 37 free throws.
J.R. Smith was Denver's second leading scorer with 16 points as the Nuggets managed only 11 assists and failed to reach 100 points for just the sixth time.
``We turned the ball over too much, mainly myself,'' said guard Chauncey Billups, who had 14 points, one assist and five turnovers. ``Anytime we have more turnovers than assists, chances are we're not going to look too good.''
NOTES: Karl, a North Carolina alum, said there is a ``harmony or karma'' in returning to the state. ``The North Carolina fraternity of basketball is the best in sport, in my opinion,'' he said. ... Tar Heels coach Roy Williams and Carolina Panthers LB Jon Beason sat together courtside, but Beason declined Williams' offer to dip into his popcorn tub in the third quarter. ... Williams was there to see his former point guard, Nuggets rookie G Ty Lawson, who had 5 points in 19 minutes in his pro debut in the state. ... Felton hit 6 of 7 shots and had six steals.