for this game

'Melo, Billups lead Nuggets past Jazz

Jan 18, 2010 - 6:01 AM By ARNIE STAPLETON AP Sports Writer

DENVER(AP) -- The Denver Nuggets unveiled their new two-point guard look Sunday night with Chauncey Billups and rookie Ty Lawson.

The results were impressive with Billups scoring 29 points to go with Carmelo Anthony's 37 in a 119-112 win over Utah that snapped the Jazz's winning streak at four.

Lawson scored 11 points and had an assist and two key steals in his return from a sprained ankle that cost him four games, but it was the things that don't show up in the stat sheet next to his name where his presence was truly felt.

"He is a speedster," Jazz forward Kyle Korver said. "He gets out and he goes, attacks the basket and he is surrounded by shooters and scorers. And you pair him with Chauncey, he makes them more dangerous. And then you have to be concerned about Carmelo from the outside."

Lawson teamed with Billups to steady the Nuggets' sometimes erratic offense.

"Ty and Chauncey can attack," Anthony said. "Ty can get to the rim any time he wants and Chauncey, being able to shoot the ball and then create for himself like he can, it makes it hard for them to double-team me and Nene down there."

Lawson said his twisted ankle took longer to heal than he expected but he looked 100 percent.

"I felt like I didn't miss a step because I was shooting and doing everything I could without running," he said. "It felt good to get my blood pumping again."

When the Nuggets drafted Lawson, the Nuggets spoke about how he could keep Billups fresh for the stretch run. But a bonus is getting on more minutes on the floor together with his mentor.

"That will be good because I like playing on the ball and off the ball," Lawson said. "So, if he's gets a rebound, then I'm gone. He does the same thing: I get the rebound, he's gone. It's good to have two ball-handlers on the court. It should be fun to play with him."

Nene added 18 points for the Nuggets, whose win on this January night could mean a lot come April.

Denver improved to 3-0 against Utah, winning the season series, which could prove crucial for playoff seeding should these teams end up with the same record in the tight Western Conference.

"Coming down the stretch, this game right here is going to mean a lot," Anthony said.

Point guard Deron Williams led the Jazz with 23 points. Korver had 19, Carlos Boozer 18 and Paul Millsap 17.

Although Utah's lone lead came at 7-6, this game was contested until the final minute.

Boozer's drive made it 108-104 with just under two minutes left, but Billups iced it with a 3-pointer with 57 seconds left that made it 113-108.

"Carmelo got it started, Chauncey finished it," Boozer said.

The Nuggets shot 49 free throws - making 41 - a testament to their aggressiveness.

"You give up 49 free throws on the road. Are you kidding me? You've got no chance to win," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said.

"We're an attacking team," said Billups, who was 17 of 19 from the line. "We try to get out on the break and we not many times settled for jump shots tonight. We got into the bonus early and once you smell blood, once you get into the bonus with eight minutes, then you're going to continue to attack and not settle for jumpers and let them get off on a run."

The Jazz shot just 27 free throws, making 20.

Lawson had missed four games since spraining his left ankle against Golden State on Jan. 5, and in his absence, the Nuggets lost some of the fluidity in their offense, often having trouble with pace and penetration that's so crucial to their philosophies.

Coach George Karl also missed Lawson's disruptive defense and said he looks forward to putting him on the court with Billups more often during the last half of the season, just like they were for much of the fourth quarter Sunday night.

Williams doesn't like the thought of Denver using their two point guards together like this.

"(Lawson) has given them a different dynamic because he is a different point guard than Chauncey," Williams said. "You know they are going to push tempo a lot more. He is one of the fastest guys in the league and he knocks you with the ball in his hands. He puts a lot of pressure on your defense."

NOTES: Utah hasn't won in Denver since Feb. 6, 2008. ... The Nuggets are 21-2 when leading after three quarters. ... The Nuggets had only 16 assists to Utah's 30.