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Denver ties Jazz for eighth in the West

DENVER (AP) -- Carmelo Anthony's career shooting night moved the
Denver Nuggets into a tie for the final Western Conference playoff

He had plenty of help, too.

Anthony scored a career-high 41 points and the Nuggets got big
contributions throughout the lineup to hold off the Seattle
SuperSonics 124-119 Tuesday night.

"We had some great performances from a lot of people," Nuggets
coach Jeff Bzdelik said.

Andre Miller had 14 points, 16 assists and nine rebounds, Marcus
Camby had 15 points and held his ground inside on defense, Nene had
19 points and Jon Barry added 11 points and eight assists.

And it wasn't just the starters.

Earl Boykins had 11 points and hit a key 3-pointer to put the
Nuggets up by four with 1:29 left. Chris Andersen made sure the
Nuggets didn't miss a beat when Camby got in foul trouble, grabbing
10 rebounds and blocking three shots in 20 minutes.

Denver shot 50 percent and moved into a tie with idle Utah for
eighth place in the West. Denver has seven games left to secure its
first playoff appearance since 1995.

"The game was so important," Miller said. "We couldn't let
this get away."

Anthony had something to do with it.

He had 18 points in a first-quarter shootout with Rashard Lewis
and kept it going after Lewis cooled off. Anthony finished
19-for-29 to tie LeBron James for most points by a rookie this

"I couldn't let LeBron get 41 without me getting 41," said
Anthony, who also broke his own team record for points by a rookie

If the Nuggets had played some defense, it wouldn't have been

Seattle had open jumpers and uncontested layups most of the
night to shoot 50 percent, causing Bzdelik to slam his first on the
scorer's table numerous times.

Lewis had 26 points and Ray Allen added 24, but it wasn't enough
offset the Sonics' shoddy defense. Seattle couldn't contain Anthony
and let Denver race off to 25 fast-break points to drop four games
behind Utah and Denver with eight games left.

"The past couple of games we got away from playing defense,"
Sonics guard Antonio Daniels said. "Sometimes we try to outscore
and not play defense. You can't be successful playing the way we

Still, the Sonics had a chance.

Seattle cut the lead to two three times in the final minute, but
the Nuggets had an answer each time.

Anthony hit a long jumper, then Rodney White, Boykins and Miller
combined to hit 5-of-6 free throws in the final 21 seconds.

Seattle's final legitimate chance ended when Allen and Brent
Barry missed consecutive 3-pointers with 8 seconds left.

"We tried to outshoot them and were almost successful at it,"
Allen said. "When it came down to it we just didn't make stops."

Nobody could stop Anthony and Lewis in the first quarter.

Anthony was just 6-for-21 against the Sonics on Friday, but had
the stroke going much better this time.

He missed his first shot, then made eight of the next nine to
finish the first half with 27 points on 12-of-18 shooting. Anthony
did it a variety of ways, scoring on turnarounds, two 3-pointers
and a dunk on the break.

"The goal looked so big to me," Anthony said. "Everything I
put up went in and I took advantage of it."

Lewis used his full repertoire going, too, hitting from long
range, off screens and runners. He ended the first quarter with 15
points on 6-of-11 shooting, including 3-for-4 on 3-pointers.

Allen took over from there, shooting 4-of-7 for 11 points in the
second quarter. He opened with a 3-pointer and added another from
about eight feet behind the line to beat the shot clock and finish
the first half with 19 points.

Game notes
Seattle F Reggie Evans returned after missing a game with a
lower back strain. He had four points. ... Nuggets shooting guard
Voshon Lenard missed his third straight game with bruised ribs. ...
Anthony let his hair down for the morning shootaround, but had it
back in braids by game time. "I can't let the kids see me like
this," Anthony said of his wild 'do that was about a foot in
diameter and waved in the wind. ... Anthony's previous career high
came Feb. 2 against Portland.