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Karl's return sparks Nuggets' win over Kings

Apr 5, 2007 - 7:01 AM DENVER (Ticker) -- With coach George Karl back in the fold, the Denver Nuggets were firing on all cylinders.

Carmelo Anthony scored 31 points and Nene added a career-high 28 and 12 rebounds as the Nuggets used a high-powered attack en route to a 120-115 victory over the sliding Sacramento Kings.

With the win, Denver (38-36) moved within one-half game of the Los Angeles Lakers (39-36) for sixth place in the Western Conference. The Nuggets remained one game ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers (37-37), who defeated the Lakers, 90-82, on Wednesday night.

"We're still controlling our own destiny," Anthony said. "We can't really worry about what the Lakers are doing right now."

Karl returned after a one-game absence to be with his 23-year-old son, Coby, who underwent seven hours of surgery for the removal of cancerous lymph nodes Monday in Boise, Idaho.

In Karl's return, it looked as if his squad was playing on his behalf, as the Nuggets came out scorching hot in the first half. Denver took a 71-50 lead at halftime, its second-highest scoring output in a half this season.

"Defensively, in the first half, giving up 71 points, the percentage they shot from the field was certainly disappointing," Sacramento coach Eric Musselman said. "I thought the guys did a good job at halftime of regrouping and coming out. One thing about this team is that they will play until the final buzzer."

Despite the victory, Karl agreed that his team showed promise in the first half but too often falls into poor play.

"When we pass, play together, and play defense we're good," Karl said. "When we shoot jump shots, hold the ball, and get sticky and don't run back, teams can (come back) on us. The formula that you saw break down in the second half has happened a couple times this year, unfortunately probably too many times."

Anthony shot 10-of-20 from the field and Nene was 9-of-13 from the floor for the Nuggets, who shot 49 percent (41-of-83) and dished out 31 assists.

"Nene's been ballin' for the last couple of weeks," Anthony said. "He's been playing really well. I think we need that from him in order to for us to be the team we want to be."

Ron Artest scored 32 points for the Kings (30-44), who have lost 12 of their last 14 games to slide out of playoff contention - seven games back of the Clippers (37-37) for the West's final playoff spot with just eight contests left.

Artest, however, still believes.

"I don't think we are officially out of the playoff race yet, so we're still going to play hard," Artest said. "Anything can happen. The majority of our losses have been close. We put ourselves in a winning position. If there is a small percentage, then that's all we need. We win five in a row we are in the playoffs."

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