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Webber guides Pistons past Nuggets

Mar 10, 2007 - 6:51 AM DENVER (Ticker) -- Chris Webber and the Detroit Pistons finally got over the hump in the Rocky Mountains.

Webber collected 20 points and nine rebounds as the Pistons opened a five-game West Coast swing with a 95-82 triumph over the Denver Nuggets, who had Carmelo Anthony back in the lineup.

Rasheed Wallace had 17 points and 10 rebounds and former Nugget Chauncey Billups scored 16 points for Detroit, which captured its first win at the Pepsi Center in three trips.

"It was a good win for us, it was a good way to win," Billups said.

The win helped the Pistons (38-22) move 2 1/2 games ahead of the idle Cleveland Cavaliers (36-25) for first place in the Eastern Conference standings.

Reserve Carlos Delfino and Wallace connected on back-to-back 3-pointers as Detroit was able to open up an 80-65 cushion with nine minutes to go.

But Denver did not retreat, cutting the deficit to 80-74 as All-Star Allen Iverson drained a shot from the arc and Linas Kleiza fellow with two more of his own three minutes later.

However, the Pistons regained control behind Webber, who had a hand in six points during an 8-2 surge to make it 88-76 with 3:55 left.

"We just needed to calm down a bit," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "We're always at our best when we're playing at our pace, methodically cut people apart offensively. Defensively, change the defenses and get in a position where we make them beat us over the top with contested shots and those are the things that we did."

Anthony netted 17 points, but had just one point in the second half. He missed Denver's last game on Wednesday due to the birth of his first born child.

"I really don't want to make any excuses with that," Anthony said. "In the second half of the game I just played terrible. I don't want to make any excuse. I shouldn't have been out there in the second half.

"If I was the coach I would have sat me in the second half for the way I was playing. It's tough though man, losing on your home court. You have the fans yelling at you and telling you you (stink). We'll get through it, we'll keep fighting. We'll get through this."

Despite the loss, Denver (29-31) is still in seventh place in the Western Conference standings, just one-half game ahead the Los Angeles Clippers (29-32), who also lost Friday.

"We still control our own destiny. We're still in a great spot, but we have to start putting it together," Anthony said.

Iverson scored 19 points and Kleiza contributed 14 and nine rebounds off the bench for Denver, which fell to 9-6 against teams from the East at home.

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