for this game

Iverson, Nuggets hold off Grizzlies

Jan 31, 2008 - 5:22 AM BY Shawn Pachucki PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

MEMPHIS, Tennessee (Ticker) -- With Carmelo Anthony out of uniform for the fifth straight game, the Denver Nuggets found just enough offense down the stretch to hold off the Memphis Grizzlies and put the breaks on their worst road skid in three years.

Allen Iverson scored 10 of his 32 points in the final nine minutes to lead the Nuggets to a 106-102 victory over the Grizzlies on Wednesday night.

Iverson went 6-of-6 from free-throw line in the last 25 seconds to ice the game for the Nuggets, who had lost six straight away from the Pepsi Center entering the game.

"When the pressure is on and we need those free throws, I like to be able to knock (them) down," said Iverson, who hit 10-of-12 free throws in the game.

The Nuggets entered the game losers of six straight, their worst road losing streak since the 2004-05 season when they dropped eight straight.

"It was a serious gut-check for us," Iverson said. "I think a game like this is going to help us down the line. Being down seven points with three minutes to go, it shows you can still win a basketball game."

Denver trailed 97-90 after Rudy Gay nailed a fadeaway jumper with 3:12 to play. But Linas Kleiza capped a 10-0 run with a 3-pointer from the corner to give the Nuggets a three-point lead with 52.7 seconds left.

With 12 seconds to play, Gay drained a shot from the arc between two sets of free throws by Iverson. Iverson hit two more from the line after a layup by Mike Miller with eight seconds left, and Gay's desperation 3-pointer missed the mark in the closing seconds.

"I didn't expect it to be easy, but I think the last three minutes you can't play better than we played," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "I think they knew the importance of this win."

The Nuggets have averaged 107.1 points in their first 40 games this season, but have been scoring about 11 fewer points in each of the four previous games without Anthony, the team's second leading scorer.

Iverson did his best to pick up the slack, scoring 21 points in the first half on 9-of-14 shooting from the field. He finished the game 11-of-26 with 12 assists.

"He's a great player, and you expect big nights from him like he had tonight and big shots when it counts," said Grizzlies point guard Kyle Lowry, who scored 19 points and drew the tough assignment of staying in front of the All-Star for most of the game. "We did the best we could and showed we wanted to win, but we came up short."

Anthony Carter added 18 points and Kleiza chipped in 15 for Denver, which shot 51 percent (43-85) and outscored Memphis, 60-40, in the paint.

It didn't hurt that Denver's defense, which had been giving up nearly 108.0 points per game over the last 11 contests, turned up the intensity. The Nuggets scored 27 points off of 18 turnovers by the Grizzlies, who were just 7-of-30 on 3-pointers.

"I think they understand they can be a good defensive team. Tonight, we probably won it with stops," Karl said.

Gay had 32 points, including four 3-pointers, and 10 rebounds, Miller netted 22 points, and Darko Milicic had his best outing of the season with 14, 16 rebounds and five blocks for the Grizzlies.

Memphis shot just 43 percent (42-of-98) for the game and scored just five fast-break points - compared to 21 for Denver - in losing for the 10th time in its last 12 games.

"They made the big baskets down the stretch, and we didn't execute, unfortunately," Memphis coach Marc Iavaroni said. "We were shorthanded, but our guys battled. I think we know now that you have to do more than battle - you have to execute down the stretch."