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Billups scores 26 as Nuggets get by Suns in overtime

DENVER -- Chauncey Billups shook off the flu long enough to help put away the Phoenix Suns.

Billups scored five of his game-high 26 points in overtime and the Denver Nuggets beat the Phoenix Suns 119-113 on Thursday night.

Nene had 17 points and 14 rebounds and Kenyon Martin had 24 points, including a clinching 3-pointer with 29.6 seconds left in overtime. Martin also had eight rebounds and a career-high seven steals for Denver, which has won seven of eight.

Billups, who said he's been sick since the end of December, also had eight assists.

"Just trying to get through it," he said. "Once the game starts you've got to do what you've got to do."

Grant Hill scored a season-high 25 points and Steve Nash had 20 points and 14 assists for the Suns, who played without center Shaquille O'Neal, who was inactive for the game. Phoenix coach Terry Porter said it was a "routine" night off for O'Neal.

"It takes away a weapon," Porter said. "It's just like Denver being without [Carmelo Anthony]."

Billups, who was 4-for-15 from the field in regulation, made his first two shots of overtime to give Denver a 110-105 lead. Leandro Barbosa's two free throws cut the lead to 112-109, but Martin beat the shot clock with his 3-pointer from the top of the circle to give Denver a 115-109 lead.

"They passed me the ball, so I've got no choice but to shoot it," Martin said.

J.R. Smith hit three free throws in the final 24 seconds to seal the win.

Denver used an 11-0 run in the fourth to take a 96-88 lead, but Phoenix, behind 3-pointers from Nash and Jason Richardson, reeled off 10 straight points to take a 98-96 lead.

"We still were able to fight back to tie it at the end of the quarter and then had a chance to win it at the end of regulation," Porter said.

The teams traded baskets until Smith's 3-pointer with 1:23 left tied it at 103. Both teams missed chances to take the lead in the final minute before the Suns set up for the final play for Hill, but he couldn't get a shot off.

Hill and Porter thought Dahntay Jones fouled the forward.

"Dahntay stuck his leg out and tripped me and I lost my balance," Hill said. "I ran into Nene at the same time. It was pretty obvious there was something there, but I guess the officials were scared to make that call.

"It's really disheartening for a team to go out and play hard as we did and it comes down to a play like that where an official has the right angle. He kind of swallowed his whistle."

Once the Nuggets got the lead in overtime, the Suns couldn't recover.

"Both teams were somewhat tired," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "Chauncey in the overtime, the first three or four possessions, got us going."

The Nuggets trailed by six at the half but went on an 11-1 run to start the third quarter. They led by eight in the period before the Suns recovered to tie it at 82 heading into the fourth.

Amare Stoudemire, who finished with 21 points, had two quick buckets to start the second quarter as Phoenix opened a 13-point lead early in the period. The Suns extended it to 53-39 with 5:02 left in the half before Denver went on an 11-0 run to cut the lead to three. Linas Kleiza, who was 1-for-12 in his previous two games, made his first five shots -- four of them dunks -- to help the Nuggets stay within 62-56 at halftime. He finished with 18 points

Four Suns, led by Stoudemire's 12 points, were in double figures in the first half. Billups led the Nuggets with 15 points at the break.

The Suns used a balanced attack to get out to an 11-point lead in the first period. Richardson had nine points and Stoudemire had seven as Phoenix took a 35-26 lead into the second quarter.

Stoudemire was saddled with foul trouble most of the night and took only nine shots, one after the third quarter.

"It was tough out there," he said. "I couldn't get a break."

Game notes
Nash has made 48 straight free throws. ... Smith was not fined or suspended by the league for throwing an elbow at Dallas F Antoine Wright on Tuesday night. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban asked the league to review the play, which occurred late in the second quarter.