Carmelo scores 30, grabs 11 rebounds as Nuggets top Clippers

LOS ANGELES -- Marcus Camby made plenty of big plays during his six seasons with the Nuggets. And in his first game against them since leaving Denver, he had a chance to give the Los Angeles Clippers a comeback victory with a 3-pointer as time ran out.

Camby's shot came up short.

"That was storybook ending right there," Carmelo Anthony said after scoring 30 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and hitting a go-ahead jumper with 1:15 remaining to help the Nuggets beat Los Angeles 106-105 Wednesday night.

The Clippers could have used more help from their newcomers.

Zach Randolph and Mardy Collins debuted for Los Angeles following last Friday's trade that sent Cuttino Mobley and Tim Thomas to the New York Knicks. Randolph missed seven of his first eight shots and finished 3-for-11 with seven points in 25 minutes. Collins picked up two fouls in his first 2 1/2 minutes on the floor and played nine scoreless minutes.

The Clippers' latest trade was held up while the Knicks conducted further testing on Mobley's congenital heart condition, but New York approved the deal anyway. Randolph and Collins weren't able to practice with their new teammates until Tuesday.

"I didn't know the plays, but I just didn't play good. I didn't play my game at all," Randolph said. "I haven't played in a week, and I kind of felt it out there. I've got to get my rhythm back. I was indecisive in my movements. You could tell this was my first time out there. But the other guys played great."

Rookie guard Eric Gordon led the Clippers with 24 points, while Baron Davis had 18 points and 10 assists. Camby had 17 points and 11 rebounds.

"I'm happy we rebounded his last shot," said Denver coach George Karl, who received a hug from Camby before the game. "We were small, and we had two rebounds at the end of the game. It will look a lot better tomorrow when we are eating turkey."

Camby explained that he thought Davis was going to shoot before he passed the ball to him.

"I didn't know how much time was on the clock," Camby said. "I thought I had a good look at it. It was on a good line, it was just short."

Kenyon Martin, who sat out Monday's practice because of a sore wrist, had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Nuggets, who blew a 13-point lead before pulling it out.

Anthony missed Denver's 113-103 overtime win against the Clippers on Oct. 31 at Staples Center because of a two-game suspension he received from the Nuggets following his offseason DUI arrest. Camby sat out that game due to a bruised right heel.

After trailing 77-64 late in the third quarter, Los Angeles pulled even at 103 with a 17-7 run capped by Gordon's 3-pointer with 1:35 to play. The basket came 10 seconds after Anthony Carter shot an airball on a 3-point attempt at the other end. But Denver regained the lead on Anthony's 14-footer.

Four of the Clippers' last six losses have been by five points or fewer.

"We're just playing harder and we're right there," Gordon said. "I think it's time to close out these games."

Clippers assistant coach Kim Hughes guided the club in place of Mike Dunleavy, who was in Dallas for his father-in-law's funeral. The only other time Hughes coached an NBA game was Feb. 4 at New York, when Dunleavy was ill and the Clippers beat the Knicks 103-94 to end a nine-game road losing streak.

Hughes had 4 more hours of notice than last time, when he found out just 3 hours before tip-off.

Hughes, in his sixth season with the Clippers, spent the previous five seasons with the Nuggets in a variety of roles including director of scouting, director of player development and assistant coach -- a job he left after Jeff Bzdelik became the head coach in 2002.

"I don't begrudge them," Hughes said.

Clippers center Chris Kaman, playing his sixth straight game with a strained arch in his left foot that limits his jumping and affects his overall movement, went to the bench for good at the end of the first quarter with six points and one rebound in 12 minutes.

It was a gametime decision to play for the 7-foot center, who didn't take part in the morning shootaround or Tuesday's practice. He received a cortisone shot following the game.

The Clippers also had to deal with an undermanned bench. Guard Ricky Davis missed his third game with a sore left knee, forward Brian Skinner was scratched because of a virus and guard Jason Hart had the flu.

"We've got to try to get better," Hughes said. "We've got to try to find our chemistry. We've got to guard dribble penetration and we've got to be tougher. We've got to be more physical in terms of boxing out and being men."

Game notes
The Clippers trailed 56-55 at halftime despite a huge disparity at the free throw line. They went 5-for-9 while Denver was 18-for-21. ... Chauncey Billups shot 2-for-10 and had seven points in 38 minutes. But the Nuggets still improved to 9-2 since acquiring the 2004 finals MVP from Detroit for Allen Iverson. ... Denver F Chris Andersen, who missed his ninth game following a rib injury, is expected back in the lineup Saturday night at Minnesota. ... Dunleavy is expected to rejoin the Clippers on Friday.