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Nuggets break through in Sacramento in Artest's return

Mar 12, 2007 - 12:40 AM SACRAMENTO, California (Ticker) -- Ron Artest's return did nothing to slow down Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets, who won in Arco Arena for the first time in more than 10 years.

Artest suffered through a poor performance and Anthony scored 29 points as the Nuggets rolled to a 113-101 victory over the Kings, ended a 20-game road losing streak in the series.

The 2004 Defensive Player of the Year, Artest was excused from the team after his arrest Monday on felony domestic violence charges. He was reinstated Saturday, when he made a tearful apology in which he promised yet again to clean up his act.

Artest got mainly cheers from the home crowd when he was introduced before the game.

"In introductions I got a lot of the same regular cheers," Artest said. "It felt like old times. It should be fine."

Artest scored 17 points but made just 5-of-15 shots, including 1-of-6 from the arc. He had five turnovers and no success in slowing down Anthony, the NBA scoring leader.

"I wasn't rusty. I felt real good," Artest said. "A couple threes went in and out, my defense was OK, got some steals. I felt good."

Denver used an 18-1 run in the second quarter capped by a pair of free throws by Allen Iverson to open a 47-34 lead with 4:50 left. Swingman Linas Kleiza scored eight points during the surge.

"I think it's just been building up," Kleiza said. "More consistent role, more playing time. I've just kind of been playing out there, getting more confident. I was just trying to win and snap that 20-game losing streak. I was able to knock some shots down, they passed me the ball. It felt great."

The Nuggets opened their largest lead at 109-89 on two free throws by Iverson with 3:45 to play. They won here for the first time since January 7, 1997, ending the longest current slide of any NBA team at any site.

"This building is tough to win in," Anthony said. "Our mentality was to go out there and play hard, do whatever we had to do, try to get up and down the court and play the way we want to play.

"I think we won the game on the defensive end. We've been having struggles on the defensive end for some reason but (today) we really did well."

Iverson had 24 points and seven assists. Klieza also scored 24 points - a career high - on 8-of-11 shooting.

Mike Bibby scored 34 points on 12-of-20 shooting for the Kings.

"We just couldn't get any stops," Bibby said. "They got a lot of transition points and we weren't helping each other (today) - not a lot of rebounding. We just weren't helping each other."

The Kings fell to 1-11 at home when trailing entering the fourth quarter. Their opponents are averaging 105.8 points over the last six contests.

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    DENVER 113

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