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Kleiza's huge fourth quarter lifts Nuggets past Bobcats

Feb 3, 2008 - 5:50 AM By Blake Redabaugh PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

DENVER (Ticker) -- Carmelo Anthony was back, but it was Linas Kleiza who stole the show.

Kleiza scored all but two of his 23 of his points in the final 13 minutes and Allen Iverson chipped in 24 and 13 assists to spark the Denver Nuggets to a 117-101 comeback victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday.

Anthony scored 25 points in his first game back from a sprained left ankle for the Nuggets, who earned their second straight come-from-behind win despite the absence of reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Marcus Camby, who was suffering from a left knee contusion.

In its previous game on Wednesday night, Denver erased a seven-point deficit with 3:12 to play at Memphis and ended the game on a 16-5 run to win, 106-102.

In Saturday's contest, Kleiza ignited a 23-3 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters to give the Nuggets a 100-90 lead on Anthony's free throw with 6:50 to play.

Kleiza scored 13 points during the surge, including the go-ahead basket with 10:31 remaining in the fourth quarter to make it 89-87.

"I kind of came into my own in the second half," Kleiza said. "I started being more aggressive and it paid off. We were able to get stops in the second half and we just took off."

Denver, which trailed for most of the contest, ended up outscoring the Bobcats, 35-14, on 10-of-16 shooting in the fourth quarter.

"I think the sense of urgency was there in the fourth quarter," Iverson said. "At the end of the third quarter going into the fourth, we had a great defensive effort."

Charlotte, which was missing leading scorer Gerald Wallace because of a sprained left ankle, took advantage of Camby's absence in the first half as it raced out to a 67-57 halftime lead on 61 percent (28-of-46) shooting.

Jason Richardson picked up the slack for the Bobcats, scoring 23 of his 38 points in the opening half. But second-year swingman Yakhouba Diawara locked down on the defensive end to hold Richardson without a field goal in the final quarter.

"Diawara came in and played good defense," Richardson said. "We got rattled a little bit and they went on a run. Kleiza came in and hit some big shots."

"I thought Yakhouba was pretty incredible on defense," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "He can guard anybody from 6-6 to 6-8 and do a great job on them defensively."

Charlotte coach Sam Vincent was ejected with 3:04 left in the game for arguing with the officials. Anthony responded by hitting both technical free throws to push the Nuggets lead to 110-99.

"We don't want to make excuses," Vincent said. "We played well for probably 38 minutes and then we had some defensive lapses. We don't get some calls and things swing out of control for us."

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