New JerseyNetsNJ
18-25, 9-11 Away
26-16, 19-5 Home

Iverson leads Melo-less Nuggets past Nets

DENVER (AP) -- Allen Iverson and Denver's supporting cast is making life without Carmelo Anthony painless for the Nuggets.

Iverson scored 30 points and Linas Kleiza added 23 as the Nuggets beat the struggling New Jersey Nets 100-85 Friday night.

"We've got so many guys banged up and we really needed a game like this," Iverson said. "You just have to have guys suck it up,"

Kenyon Martin, the No. 1 overall pick by the Nets in the 2000 draft, scored 20 points before fouling out with 2:56 left in the game.

"I think he's close [to what he once was]. Just the mental aspect is what we need from him the most," Iverson said of oft-injured Martin. "His unselfishness and approach to the game, he thinks team first. He plays hard on every possession."

The Nuggets played a second straight game without Anthony, an All-Star starter along with Iverson. Anthony sprained his right ankle last Monday against the Los Angeles Lakers.

"I try to be a voice on the floor, a positive voice, and to do things the right way," Iverson said. "I don't see myself doing any more or any less."

The Nets have lost eight straight, their longest skid in more than three years, and dropped the first five games on a six-game road trip that now heads to Minnesota.

Richard Jefferson led New Jersey with 19 points. Jason Kidd, another starter in All-Star game had his 11th triple-double of the year with 13 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. It was his 98th career triple-double.

Iverson buried two shots around a 3-pointer by Anthony Carter in the first minute of the final period as part of a 12-2 run for Denver. The run helped the Nuggets extend their lead to 85-67.

New Jersey hung around, getting within 90-83 with 4:05 to play after Vince Carter's 3-pointer and a layup by Antoine Wright. Jefferson cut it to five with two free throws, but Martin countered with a layup to put the Nuggets up 92-85.

Kleiza sealed the game with a 3-pointer with 1:41 remaining that made it 95-85.

"We just didn't have the energy and they did," New Jersey coach Lawrence Frank said. "They were much more aggressive and really attacked us in the paint."

Even without Anthony the Nuggets outscored the Nets 44-24 in the paint.

Leading by 14 at halftime, Denver quickly increased its advantage to 56-37 on successive baskets by Kleiza. The Nets got to within 56-42 after a basket by Josh Boone and another hoop by Boone made it 60-45.

But Denver's lead leaped to 67-45 when Iverson scored seven straight points. Carter had five points in the last two minutes of the quarter and New Jersey whittled it down to 73-67 by the end of the third quarter.

"Defensively, it may have been the best half we played all season. We mixed a little man-to-man and zone into it," Denver coach George Karl said. "The second half we played with a lead a lot, and didn't get very good control of the 3-ball."

New Jersey managed only 31 points in the first half, with 13 field goals and trailed 47-31 at the break.

Iverson hit his first shot of the second quarter, a 3-pointer, and 3 by Eduardo Najera gave the Nuggets a 28-12 lead. A dunk by Kleiza put Denver ahead 38-20, its biggest lead of the half.

The Nets started out badly, making only 5-of-22 shots and turned the ball over five times. The Nuggets led 19-11 after a quarter, with the Nets a point away from a season low for a quarter.

"We need wins and we need them badly," Boone said. "It would help if we got off to better starts and played better defense."

Game notes
New Jersey missed its first five free throws. ... Jefferson and Anthony were teammates on the Team USA that took the bronze medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics. ... Marcus Camby blocked his 1,000 shot as a Nuggets players early in the second quarter. ... Anthony is expected to return Sunday in Denver's game at Dallas. ... Najera played after a one-game absence with a hyperextended right elbow.