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Battier's big fourth quarter carries Rockets past Nuggets

Jan 13, 2007 - 7:53 AM DENVER (Ticker) -- While Allen Iverson did not get a chance to win the game, Shane Battier made good on his opportunity.

Battier nailed a go-ahead 3-pointer with 47 seconds remaining and scored 10 of his team's final 13 points as the Houston Rockets posted their third straight win, a dramatic 90-86 victory over the Denver Nuggets.

Battier had 25 points and seven rebounds and Tracy McGrady added 12 and 11 assists for the Rockets, who relied on their league-leading defense to keep them close while struggling to score for most of the game.

However, Battier said just having McGrady on the floor causes problems for the defense and helps him play better.

"I'm glad my teammates have confidence in me," Battier said. "When you play with McGrady you get those shots a lot. He demands so much attention. But on that last shot, I missed the other two (game winning threes) that I took previously this season, so I was happy."

After Iverson's 3-pointer with 1:01 remaining tied it, 86-86, Houston called timeout to get a good shot off a set play, and it did. With two defenders running at McGrady on the left wing, he whipped a pass to a wide-open Battier, who nailed a 3-pointer from the left corner.

"All I did was go to the open spot and I was able to knock it down," Battier said. "I like it (when I'm wide open). I don't want anyone to pay attention to me. I just want to do my job and go home. Hopefully, my defenders will leave me open and not pay any attention to me. I enjoy that."

Two possessions later, Nuggets guard Steve Blake grabbed Rafer Alston's missed jumper and pushed the ball the other way with Denver trailing, 89-86. However, Blake ignored Iverson on his right and dished to guard Yakhouba Diawara, who missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer with three seconds to go.

In his first game with the Nuggets since being traded from Milwaukee, Blake is still trying to get used to his new teammates.

"It felt great just having these guys that I have around me," Blake said. "It's going to help me be a better player. I'm looking forward to playing more with these guys and hopefully get a win next time."

Diawara scored 13 points but was just 3-of-12 from arc.

"We had a couple of mistakes in the fourth quarter and that cost us the game," Diawara said. "We're working hard all the time and we just have to keep going."

McGrady shot 5-of-17 from the field but did most of his damage as a playmaker, setting up his teammates for easy shots.

Battier was 7-of-13 from the floor and 5-of-9 on 3-pointers for the Rockets, who shot 43 percent (32-of-75).

"Next to (Steve) Nash I think he's the premier decision maker in the game," Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "People call on different people to do different things, depending on what they need. We need both his scoring and his passing."

"I realized I didn't have it going on the offensive end, yet I find ways to make plays for my team and put them in a great position to score," McGrady said. "That's how I win ball games when I'm not on. I make the decisions for the team and these guys are knocking down shots."

Iverson scored 28 points for the Nuggets, who shot just 35 percent (32-of-92) and have dropped six of their last seven contests.

"I'm frustrated because I feel like we lost some games we could have won but it's hard to be upset when you know that you got guys giving 110 percent and trying their hardest," Iverson said. "You're always upset about the losses but you feel good after the game is over because you know your teammates did everything they could to try and get the win."

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