Billups clutch down the stretch as Denver downs SunsNov 29, 2010 - 7:33 AM Denver, CO (Sports Network) - Chauncey Billups returned to score 25 points and made four key free throws down the stretch as the Denver Nuggets survived a Phoenix rally for a 138-133 win.
Denver, which led by as many as 19 in the game, earned its fourth straight win behind J.R. Smith's 30 bench points after Carmelo Anthony left the game with a chest cold.
Jason Richardson led all scorers with 39 points for the Suns, who have dropped five of their last seven. Nash scored 17 in the loss and had a game-high 11 assists.
Anthony left after playing just 2:48 -- he made his only shot -- and Nuggets head coach George Karl said it was the right move.
"Melo knows how important he is to us and I think he probably made the right decision. He didn't look very good. He didn't look like a healthy guy," Karl said.
A pair of Billups free throws gave Denver a 134-131 lead with 21.4 seconds remaining. Steve Nash attempted a running three-pointer after an inbounds play on the other end, but it missed.
Billups, who missed the last two games with a sprained right wrist, hit two more free throws to make it 136-131 with 16.4 seconds left, but Smith inexplicably fouled Nash as he was bringing the ball up in the backcourt and the Suns guard hit both foul shots to get Phoenix within three points again.
Arron Afflalo iced the game for Denver with two foul shots, while a flurry of Suns shots at the other end missed as time ran out.
Richardson went 15-of-24 from the field in 36 minutes and was 7-of-10 from three-point range. But those are just numbers, he said.
"It's about winning. If I scored five points and we would've won, I'd be happy," said Richardson.
Only slightly worse from beyond the arc was Smith, who hit six of his 11 three-point tries and went 8-of-15 overall from the field in 29 minutes off the bench.
"Everybody stepped up and made plays" in Anthony's absence, said Afflalo. "J.R. was really, really efficient tonight. He made a lot of tough shots."
The Suns finished with six scorers in double figures -- but the Nuggets had seven and controlled the game from the start.
Denver shot 57 percent in the first quarter and held Phoenix under 29 percent for a 31-18 lead at the end of the frame. Hedo Turkoglu scored all 13 of his points in the second quarter to help the Suns pull within 11 points, 68-57, at halftime.
The Nuggets went ahead by as many as 19 points late in the third quarter when Ty Lawson drilled a three-pointer to make it 105-86, but Richardson responded with a trey at the other end to cut the margin to 16 heading into the fourth.
Denver's lead was still in double-digits with six minutes remaining, but Phoenix went on a 16-9 run to pull within three points at 128-125 on Nash's three-pointer.
The Suns never led in the game, but they cut their deficit to one when Nash completed a three-point play with 22.3 seconds left. Billups hit his free throws at the other end and the Nuggets were able to hang on.
Denver shot 51.8 percent from the field and Phoenix shot 51.0 percent...Richardson added a game-high 10 rebounds...The Suns won the season's first meeting between the teams, 100-94, at home on November 15.
- PHOENIX: 133
Nov 28 10:42 PM
- PHOENIX: 89
End of 3rd
Nov 28 9:54 PM
- PHOENIX: 57
Nov 28 9:15 PM
- PHOENIX: 18
End of 1st
Nov 28 8:37 PM
- PHOENIX: 0
1st Quarter - 15:00
Nov 28 8:12 PM
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