111 - 112 Final - 2OT
  for this game

Carter lifts Nuggets over Rockets in thriller

Dec 21, 2007 - 8:19 AM DENVER (Ticker) -- Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson accounted for nearly all of the Denver Nuggets' offense. But Anthony Carter made the shot that mattered.

Carter nailed a clutch runner with eight-tenths of a second left in the second extra period as the Nuggets outlasted the Houston Rockets, 112-111, at Pepsi Center on Thursday night.

Anthony scored 37 points and Iverson added 36 for Denver, which had just one other player in double figures despite playing 10 extra minutes.

"This was a gutsy win for us," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "Any win now is important. Don't know how many fresh bodies we will have now for (Friday night at Portland)."

The Nuggets benefited from the Rockets playing without superstar swingman Tracy McGrady, who was out with an ankle injury. Houston now is 11-42 when he does not play since the superstar arrived in 2004-05.

However, the Rockets did put up a big fight.

"We hung tough and dug deep inside ourselves," Rockets guard Rafer Alston said. "We found some energy and played hard in a double-overtime game. It was tough, we were right there until the end, and Carter hit a big shot. Everybody had the will to want to get out there and get it done."

Yao Ming shouldered the load for the absent McGrady, collecting 26 points and 19 rebounds and nailing two crucial free throws with 4.5 ticks left in the second extra period to give the Rockets a 111-110 advantage.

"Yao was terrific, he had an unbelievable game," Houston coach Rick Adelman said.

But after a timeout, Carter faked Houston forward Bonzi Wells into the air and tossed in a leaning shot from just outside the lane to provide the final margin.

"As soon as I got the ball, I pump-faked and got underneath him for a one-step runner," Carter said. "I was just trying to duck under him. I wasn't trying to get the foul; I was just concentrating on the shot. You might not get the shot, so that's why I was concentrating on the shot. I didn't know it was good until it went through the net."

Wells' desperation 3-pointer on the game's final possession was off the mark. However, it was a surprise that someone other than Anthony or Iverson took the clinching shot.

"When (Carter) got (Wells) up in the air, I thought he was going to make him foul and he's going to get two free throws," Iverson said. "It looked good all the way. It didn't even touch the rim.

"That was good for us because everyone expects myself or (Anthony) to take that shot. You got to have confidence in all five guys out on the floor. That just shows you what a team is."

Anthony, who entered the game in a serious shooting slump, netted 29 points in the second half and both overtimes. He shot 13-of-32 from the floor and added 16 rebounds.

Iverson was 14-of-30 from the field and added nine assists for Denver, which snapped a two-game skid.

"Hopefully, we can use that as motivation," Anthony said. "After tonight's battle, we're going to have to find energy to play against a very hot team (Portland). We need to get everybody on the court and be injury free and keep playing like we did tonight. When we play defense like that, it's pretty hard to beat us."

After Iverson gave the Nuggets a 102-101 lead with a deep jumper with 1:04 left in the first overtime, Alston nailed 1-of-2 free throws to tie the game with 52 seconds remaining.

Denver had a chance to go in front on the ensuing possession if not for poor shot selection by Chucky Atkins, who misfired on a deep 3-pointer with five ticks left on the shot clock.

After a shot-clock violation by the Rockets, Iverson came up short on a mid-range jumper as time expired in the first extra period. It was a wonder the game even needed extra time.

Eduardo Najera nailed a 3-pointer to give the Nuggets a 94-87 lead with 1:54 left in regulation. However, the Rockets stormed back quickly with a 7-0 run to tie the game and eventually send it to overtime.

Wells scored on consecutive possessions, and Luther Head capped the burst with a 3-pointer in transition with 40.4 ticks left.

"I felt more and more comfortable as the minutes went by," Head said. "I tried to get Yao the ball as much as I could and get open and knock down the shots as much as I could."

Denver had a chance to take the lead, but Carter missed a 22-footer, and the long rebound was saved inbounds by Marcus Camby. But Carter then tried to execute a difficult mid-air touch-pass to Najera that went out of bounds.

On the ensuing possession, Yao missed a contested fadeaway jumper as time expired in regulation.

Alston had 18 points and 10 assists and Head added 22 points for the Rockets, who have lost five of their last six games.

"Our team was terrific, but we have to find a way to get a win," Adelman said. "We are playing more aggressive and attacking better. Iverson in the first half and Carmelo Anthony in the second half."