Anthony's jumper leads Nuggets past Pacers

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- George Karl figured there was only one
option when the Denver Nuggets needed a last-second shot Wednesday
night -- Carmelo Anthony.

With Anthony playing the way he has in March, why consider
anyone else?

So Karl did the obvious thing after calling timeout with 18.6
seconds left. He called for Anthony to isolate himself on the right
side and back away from a defender. Anthony executed the play
perfectly, hitting an 18-foot fadeaway with 2.2 seconds left to
give the Nuggets a 101-99 victory at Indiana.

"He's a special guy, he was almost perfect tonight," Karl
said. "If he misses, we probably get the tip-in anyway."

For Karl, there wasn't even a second thought.

Although Andre Miller was effective, scoring 21 points and
handing out nine assists, and Marcus Camby and Ruben Patterson both
scored in double figures, Anthony has simply been too good lately.

He entered the game averaging more than 29 points and connecting
on more than 58 percent of his shots in March, and delivered in a
similar fashion Wednesday.

He shot 12-of-25, finished with 31 points -- his third straight
game topping 30 -- and was flawless on the final play as Denver
(37-29) improved to 4-1 on its seven-game road trip.

"All I needed was a little bit of space," Anthony said. "I
was taking the jumper. They gave me a little space and I took the

The Pacers (32-30) struggled again in the first half, falling
into a deep deficit in the game's opening 6 minutes. They spent the
rest of the night trying to play catch up and have lost four of

Indiana did manage to erase a 16-point third-quarter deficit and
had a chance to win when Peja Stojakovic lined up a 3-pointer at
the buzzer. But the ball rimmed out.

Stojakovic led the Pacers with 22 points, while Stephen Jackson
finished with 21 despite shooting just 6-of-21 from the field.

What upset coach Rick Carlisle was another poor start.

"The first half was disappointing again and we have to solve
that," Carlisle said. "This is a very important time for us if
we're going to be a team that makes the playoffs."

Both teams were short-handed.

Pacers forward Scot Pollard sat out with a bothersome foot, and
Carlisle tried to improvise by starting Austin Croshere. It was
Croshere's first appearance since sustaining a concussion on Jan.
31. He logged less than 5 minutes.

"In all fairness to Austin, it was probably a mistake to put
him out there," Carlisle said.

Karl had a similar issues. Before the game, the Nuggets
announced that Kenyon Martin would sit out because of tendinitis in
his left knee, and Camby needed X-rays on his sore left hand.

Camby played, Martin did not. Strangely, the Nuggets are now
27-11 when either Martin or Camby don't play.

There was worse news afterward. Backup point guard Earl Boykins
apparently banged his left hand during the fourth quarter, an
injury that was later diagnosed as a fracture. He's expected to
return to Denver on Thursday for further evaluation, but Karl said
it's likely he could miss up to five weeks.

"It's bad," Karl said.

Still, the injuries could not tarnish another solid shooting
night from Denver -- or Anthony.

The Nuggets got started quickly, building a 21-10 lead midway
through the first quarter.

The Pacers got as close as 40-35 in the first half and trailed
61-47 at halftime after the Nuggets, who shot 58 percent in the
first two quarters, closed the half on a 16-8 run.

The Pacers finally got going late in the third quarter, rallying
from a 16-point deficit with a 7-1 run to close out the quarter.
They opened the fourth with three straight points to make it 82-77.

Jackson made two free throws with 3:01 left to get the Pacers
within 95-93, and when Stojakovic and Anthony Johnson hit
back-to-back 3-pointers, Indiana had finally tied the score at 99
with 1:10 left.

"I thought in the second half, we did a good job of sticking
with what we had to do to give ourselves a chance," Carlisle said.
"Our undoing is not playing 48 minutes at that level."

And, of course, Anthony.

Both teams had chances to take the lead in the last minute, but
Anthony missed a layup and Jackson a long jumper that gave Denver
the ball with 25 seconds left.

Karl then called timeout to set up a play for Anthony, who
delivered with usual clutch shot.

"I couldn't make a layup in this place, but I hit that shot,"
Anthony said. They were all banging me a little bit. Bang me all
you want, I'm going to make the shot when it counts."

Game notes
Gene Simmons, of the rock group KISS, attended the game
after joining Anthony earlier in the day at the Indianapolis Motor
Speedway. Anthony is now a co-owner with Ron Hemelgarn's Indy
Racing League team. ... Denver improved to 16-17 on the road this
season and has now won two straight at Conseco Fieldhouse after
losing nine straight there. ... The Pacers shot 23.5 percent from
3-point range, the seventh time in nine games they've been worse
than 31 percent. ... David Harrison had one block, giving him 100
in his career.