for this game

Smith scores career-high 36 points as Nuggets edge Bulls

Nov 22, 2006 - 4:43 AM DENVER (Ticker) -- As if still being winless on their circus road trip isn't bad enough, the Chicago Bulls may now feel like clowns for trading J.R. Smith.

Smith scored a career-high 36 points as the Denver Nuggets handed the Bulls their fifth straight defeat with a 113-109 triumph.

Carmelo Anthony added 29 points for Denver, falling just short of breaking Alex English's franchise record of six straight 30-point games. He missed a pair of free throws with 12 seconds left, but the Nuggets survived the Bulls' last possession to win for the fifth time in six games.

"(Smith) gets the game ball tonight, he took my 30," Anthony joked. "It's all good, though, we won the game. I've got a lot of years in this league, especially in Denver, I'm not going anywhere. I might get (the record) this year."

Meanwhile, Chicago has lost the first five contests of its annual road trip while the circus occupies the United Center. The team's latest defeat came courtesy of a player who never got the chance to don the Bulls jersey.

"We didn't accomplish anything," Bulls guard Ben Gordon said. "We came out here and lost five straight, it was a disappointing trip. We didn't get any stops. We needed stops to maintain the lead and we didn't do it."

The 18th overall pick of the New Orleans Hornets in 2004, Smith was traded to the Bulls on July 13 in the Tyson Chandler deal. Already well-stocked at shooting guard, Chicago promptly shipped the 21-year-old to Denver for journeyman Howard Eisley and a pair of second-round picks.

Smith showed the Bulls what they missed out on, scoring 11 points during a 15-0 run that spanned the third and fourth quarters. He made a pair of 3-pointers in the surge, including a 30-foot heave at the third-quarter buzzer.

"After that three at the end of the third quarter, everything started falling for me," Smith said. "It was just a great game overall. It's unbelievable, because once you're feeling it, you know you can make those shots. Especially that one from half court, it's one of the greatest feelings in the world."

Late in the fourth quarter, Smith capped a 7-0 run with a 3-pointer and a thunderous transition dunk over Andres Nocioni that gave the Nuggets a 106-95 advantage with 2:10 remaining.

"It was pretty much coincidence (that this game came against the Bulls)," Smith said. "They were in the wrong building at the wrong time. It can happen to anybody. Thankfully it happened to me and we got the W."

Kirk Hinrich scored 28 points and Luol Deng added 22 for Chicago, which was unable to overcome 43 percent (39-of-90) shooting and 17 turnovers.

Hinrich made a runner and a pair of free throws to bring the Bulls within 110-104 with 36 seconds left. Andre Miller split two foul shots for the Nuggets before Gordon nailed a 3-pointer to make it 111-107.

Anthony calmly made a pair of free throws to restore a six-point advantage, but Ben Wallace's follow shot made it a four-point game again. Anthony, with a chance to break the record, missed both foul shots before Gordon, Wallace and Deng all missed wild shots on Chicago's last possession to seal the loss.

"There's really no positives (on the road trip)," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "The bottom line is we lost all five games."

Anthony made 9-of-20 shots and all 10 of his free throws before his two late misses. Smith did not miss much of anything, draining 13-of-24 shots, including a career-high five 3-pointers.

"Like the other night, (Miller) had 29, 'Melo keeps getting 30-plus. It can happen to anybody," Smith said. "Anybody can get hot on this team. We're just going to keep feeding the hot hand."

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