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Anthony, Camby help Nuggets outlast Garnett, Celtics

Feb 20, 2008 - 6:15 AM DENVER (Ticker) -- All-Star Kevin Garnett returned but an improbable shot by Marcus Camby helped the Denver Nuggets hand the Boston Celtics their first loss to a Western Conference team.

Carmelo Anthony scored 29 points and Camby hit a key 3-pointer as the Nuggets posted a 124-118 victory over the Celtics on Tuesday night.

Camby finished with 11 points, 13 rebounds and nine blocks while Allen Iverson scored 28 points for Denver, which has won seven of nine.

"It was a great game," Camby said. "It was a playoff atmosphere out there. The intensity was there and it was a solid team effort tonight."

Paul Pierce scored 24 and Rajon Rondo 22 added for Boston, which had won five straight and entered with a 16-0 mark vs. the Western Conference.

"We haven't given up that many points all year," Pierce said. "We needed to slow down their two scorers a little better. This is a game we need to learn from."

The return of Garnett had to be a welcome sight, but he played sparingly in his return from a strained abdominal muscle that kept him out of the last nine games.

Garnett, who missed the All-Star Game with the injury, scored four points with eight rebounds in nearly 21 minutes.

"He was a little rusty," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "It wasn't a surprise after being out as long as he was. He'll be fine after a little time back on the court."

Denver led, 88-84, after three quarters and used a 13-5 fourth-quarter run to break open a close game. However, Boston did not go quietly. Behind Pierce and Rondo, the Celtics used an 11-4 run to get back into the game.

Pierce hit a 3-pointer to slice the lead to 103-97, and then threw down an emphatic dunk. He completed a 3-point play to make it 105-100 with 4:37 left. Rondo then had a putback dunk, and Garnett followed with a dunk to make it 105-104 with 3:34 remaining.

But Kenyon Martin, who scored 19 points, hit a jumper and a free throw for a 108-104 lead with 3:00 remaining.

But a key moment then came when Anthony drove the lane, drew three defenders and kicked the ball out to a wide-open Camby.

The 6-11 center paused before drilling a 3-pointer from the right wing for a 111-104 with 2:18 remaining, essentially sealing the game. It was just the third 3-pointer of the season for Camby, who has hit nine in his career.

"I knew he could hit it," Iverson said. "I've seen him hit them before. He's 7-foot and can hit 3-pointers with the game on the line. This is a good start to the second half of the season."

Boston frantically tried to rally in the closing minutes as Ray Allen and Eddie House combined for three 3-pointers in a 15-second span to cut the lead to 121-118 with 13.7 second left.

But the Nuggets, who connected on 34-of-49 free throw attempts, hit 3-of-4 from the line to seal the win.

"There isn't much difference between the eighth spot and the first place team in the West," Nuggets coach George Karl said of the ultra-competitive conference. "The media likes to talk about the other teams though. We still need to prove ourselves out there."

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