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Kleiza, Iverson help Nuggets hand Nets eighth straight loss

Jan 26, 2008 - 5:54 AM DENVER (Ticker) -- Linas Kleiza is making sure the Denver Nuggets don't miss All-Star Carmelo Anthony too much.

Kleiza scored 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and All-Star Allen Iverson added 30 points as the Nuggets handed the New Jersey Nets their eighth straight loss with a 100-85 victory on Friday night.

Kenyon Martin had 20 points and Marcus Camby collected 13 rebounds and blocked four shots for Denver, which has won four of its last five contests.

With Anthony missing two straight games with a sprained left ankle, Kleiza has done his part to fill the void. The 23-year-old Lithuanian shot 7-of-16 from the field and knocked down three 3-pointers.

"We are trying to take care of our home court," Kleiza said. "Our defense was amazing tonight. We made them miss a lot of shots and that was the key."

Kleiza's play was critical early in the third quarter, helping the Nuggets avoid a surge from the Nets. The forward scored nine points in the first five minutes of the second half to help Denver maintain its 15-point advantage.

"If we had more guys like him we would be pretty good," said Nuggets coach George Karl of Kleiza. "He really came on in the second half for us."

Leading, 47-32, at the break, Iverson hit a jump shot before Kleiza answered Sean Williams' layup with a shot from the arc.

New Jersey, which struggled with its shooting throughout the first half, started heating up in the third period, but Kleiza continued to knock down shots to keep Denver's lead in double digits.

"I'm doing whatever it takes to win out there," Kleiza said. "With 'Melo being out somebody has to pick it up and we are all doing that."

Kleiza, who also scored 23 points in Wednesday's 107-100 triumph over the Atlanta Hawks, could not help contain Vince Carter in the later stages of the quarter.

Carter scored nine points in the final 3:02 of the third as the Nets closed a 14-point deficit to 73-68 entering the final quarter. Carter finished with 13 points after being held scoreless in the first half.

"We put ourselves into a huge deficit," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "We had a lack of ability to drive the ball. We had a good stretch in the third quarter but it wasn't enough."

Iverson then helped the Nuggets take back control of the game at the start of the fourth quarter. The 32-year-old guard scored five points during the club's 10-0 run to begin the period.

"We obviously got this one done on the defensive end," Iverson said. "We didn't shoot well in the first half and had a 16-point lead. We did what we needed to win."

Martin's play in the fourth quarter allowed Denver to hold off a late comeback. Martin scored the team's only 10 points over a seven-plus minute stretch as the Nuggets led by seven when the former Net fouled out of the game.

Kleiza then buried a 3-pointer to open a 95-85 edge with 1:48 remaining. Iverson drew the defense toward him and then kicked out a quick pass to Kleiza, who sank the put-away shot.

Despite his club trailing for the entire game, Jason Kidd finished with a triple-double. He had 13 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists while Josh Boone added 13 points and 14 rebounds.

"Tonight we didn't come out with any fire and they jumped on us," New Jersey's Richard Jefferson said. "We just need to do things better. I don't think we were aggressive enough."

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