DENVER -- From almost the same spot on the floor where he missed a last-second shot three weeks ago, Carmelo Anthony swished a game-winning jumper.
Anthony's 23-footer, his second chance in the final moments, sailed over the outstretched hand of Luol Deng and dropped cleanly through the net, giving the Denver Nuggets a 98-97 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Friday night.
The Nuggets came back for their fifth consecutive win at home after blowing a 19-point, third-quarter lead.
"It was kind of the same shot that he had against Dallas. I didn't think he would miss two of them," Nuggets coach George Karl said, referring to Anthony's shot that rimmed out at the buzzer in a 103-102 loss to the Mavericks on Nov. 3.
Anthony finished with 22 points, including his 14th career game-winner.
"See, I told you. I take that same shot, nine out of 10 times, I'll make it," said Anthony, who played despite battling flu-like symptoms that had him feeling, as he put it, "terrible" for much of the game.
Nene added 18 points and Ty Lawson had 17.
Both teams played without their starting point guards. Chicago's Derrick Rose had a sore neck, apparently from having slept on it wrong the night before. Denver's Chauncey Billups missed a second consecutive game since spraining his right wrist and breaking his nose in last Saturday's game against New Jersey.
Trailing throughout the game, the Bulls tied it at 82 on a 19-foot jumper by Watson. Kyle Korver drained a 3-pointer with 6:05 remaining to give Chicago its first lead 85-82.
With Chicago leading 91-88, the Nuggets went back in front 94-91 with 2:10 left on successive driving layups by J.R. Smith, Anthony and Lawson.
But Watson answered with three consecutive baskets for the Bulls, banking in a go-ahead jumper and driving in for a twisting layup with 30 seconds remaining to make it 97-94.
After Anthony made a pair of free throws to get the Nuggets within one, newly signed Bulls guard John Lucas III was fouled with 12.9 seconds remaining and missed both free throws.
Anthony drove the lane and forced up a shot in traffic that missed, but the ball rolled out of bounds off the Bulls and the Nuggets had another chance with 4 seconds remaining.
"We wanted to play him, take his air space away and make him shoot over the top, but he made a big shot," said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "The big problem was not coming up with the loose ball."
Anthony was thankful for another chance.
"I'm happy we got a second shot at it," he said. "After George called a timeout, I came to the huddle and I told everybody, regardless of the play, I'm popping out and getting it. If we lose the game, it's on me. If we win the game, it's on me. I accept that."
Anthony got the inbounds pass from Lawson, opting against another drive to the basket and instead pulling up and squaring his shoulders before letting the basketball fly over Deng.
"Whether he contested it or not, whether he got a hand in my face or not, once I get a good look at the rim, I don't really think there's nothing nobody can do," Anthony said.
Said Deng: "He just hit a tough shot. This hurts, but we have to bounce right back."
Up by 10 at the half, the Nuggets scored 11 of the first 13 points in the third quarter, including two 3-pointers by Lawson, to go in front 59-40 with 9:32 left in the period.
But they couldn't shake the Bulls, who fought back to within a point of the Nuggets four separate times in the final 1:56 of the third, the last time when Korver made a pair of free throws. But Anthony then hit a 20-foot jumper and the Nuggets took a 76-73 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Bulls, who went to double-overtime Wednesday before pulling out a win at Phoenix, got off to a sluggish start. The Nuggets opened up a 17-point, first-quarter lead behind Nene, who had 10 points in the period on 5-of-5 shooting.
The Bulls announced the signing of Lucas before the game, giving them 14 players on their roster. ... A slam dunk by Noah late in the second quarter initially was determined to have beaten the shot clock but video review showed it had not and it was nullified. ... Billups has missed only 12 games since coming to the Nuggets in a trade with Detroit on Nov. 3, 2008. ... Arron Afflalo has connected for multiple 3-pointers six times.
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