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Kleiza's huge 3-pointer lifts Nuggets over Clippers

Apr 8, 2007 - 6:43 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Linas Kleiza made only one shot but it was the most important one of the game.

Kleiza nailed a go-ahead 3-pointer with 15 seconds left and Allen Iverson scored 34 points as the Denver Nuggets posted a dramatic 96-93 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Carmelo Anthony scored 23 points for the Nuggets (40-36), who have won five straight games to pull even with the Los Angeles Lakers (40-36) for the sixth seed in the Western Conference.

"The most important thing is to understand that (Saturday's win) is how we are going to win basketball games," Iverson said. "Concentrating on defense is going to win us basketball games in the playoffs."

Despite the loss, the Clippers (37-38) remained in the eighth and final playoff spot in the West, one game in front of Golden State (37-40). They are 2 1/2 games behind the Lakers and Nuggets.

Trailing, 93-91, Denver went into the post to Anthony, who then dribbled out of a double-team - across the lane - and found Kleiza in the right corner for the eventual game-winning 3-pointer.

"It was drawn up (for Anthony) to get him posted up, and he tried to get around double-team, but he didn't have a shot so he dropped it to me," Kleiza said. "Second time it happened, and I was able to knock it down this time."

Kleiza shot 1-of-8 from the field, including 1-of-5 on 3-pointers on Saturday.

"(Kleiza's) been struggling the last couple of games, but I put him in the game because I thought they would probably let us have that shot somewhere along the way," Denver coach George Karl said. "They tilt the game towards (Iverson) and (Anthony) so much. I thought we should have one of our better shooters out there and (Anthony) found him."

On the ensuing possession, Corey Maggette was stripped by Iverson, who then nailed two free throws to give the Nuggets a three-point lead with 4.5 seconds left.

"The (steal) at the end of the game, we were going to go into (Elton Brand) in the post and Corey tried to go to the rim," Dunleavy said. "He thought he had a clear path, that he could either get fouled or score. That is just a decision. I think he could have thrown the ball into (Brand) in the post, but he thought he had a chance to attack the rim."

"The play was not executed the right way," Maggette said. "I tried to make the play, and they came around and got the ball. It was a big play down the stretch. It was something that I did wrong."

Iverson admitted his squad has made a point to emphasize the defensive end of the floor.

"I was there on weak-side, and he came my way and I stuck my hand in there and got a piece of the ball and was able to knock it away," Iverson said. "We understand we can score points, but we want to stop people. That's what we've been concentrating on, the defense and letting the offense come to us."

Los Angeles had a chance to tie on the game's final possession, but Jason Hart's 3-pointer fell short as time expired.

Iverson shot 12-of-19 from the field, including 3-of-4 from the arc, and Anthony was 9-of-18 - nailing his lone 3-pointer.

Maggette scored 24 points and Brand had 22 and 13 rebounds for Los Angeles, which shot 43 percent (36-of-83).

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