for this game

Martin, Kings hand Nuggets crushing loss

Apr 6, 2008 - 5:12 AM By Blake Redabaugh PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

DENVER (Ticker) -- The Denver Nuggets cannot afford losses like this if they want to make the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season.

Kevin Martin overcame a stomach virus and scored 36 points and Francisco Garcia added 29 as the depleted Sacramento Kings handed the Nuggets a devastating loss with a 118-115 victory on Saturday night at the Pepsi Center.

The Nuggets (46-30), who had a nine-game home winning streak snapped, now find themselves tied with the Golden State Warriors (46-30) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Both clubs are one game behind the Dallas Mavericks (47-29) for the seventh spot.

All-Star Carmelo Anthony scored a game-high 47 points, including a 3-pointer with 59 seconds left to cut Denver's deficit to 114-111.

The Nuggets had one final attempt to send the game to overtime but J.R. Smith's shot from the arc over Mikki Moore at the buzzer bounced off the rim.

"I just tried not to jump into him, so that he'd get the foul," Moore said of the final shot. "I just didn't want him to hit a three."

The Kings were clutch from the free-throw line during the final period, making 16-of-17 attempts to stay in front.

"There is no reason for this team to come in here and beat us on our own floor," Nuggets guard Allen Iverson said. "As serious as this game was and the magnitude of this game, there was no reason for it."

Denver appeared to be headed towards an easy victory when forward Linas Kleiza ignited a 16-0 surge that gave it a 22-11 lead with 5:04 remaining in the first quarter.

Kleiza, starting for suspended forward Kenyon Martin, scored 10 points during the run as Denver led 34-25 at the end of the period.

The Kings, who were without starters Brad Miller (leg), Beno Udrih (back) and Ron Artest (thumb), climbed back into the game thanks to defense and strong second-quarter performances by Martin and Garcia.

The duo combined for 22 points in the quarter as Sacramento held Denver to 8-of-21 shooting and took a 59-56 lead into halftime.

"I felt bad when I woke up this morning," Martin said of his illness. "It's the time of year where you just have to fight through things. We just had a great game going out there tonight and we got a big win."

"The second quarter I thought we were very irresponsible in our play," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "It was going to be one of those games where we tried to outscore them, and we didn't score enough. This is not the time to point the blame on anyone."

Denver could not turn the tide coming out of the break as it continued to struggle from the field, shooting 9-of-24 and only getting to the free-throw line three times during the third quarter.

Moore scored 13 of his 23 points in the quarter as the Kings held a 88-79 margin after three.

"Playing the spoiler keeps us motivated," Kings coach Reggie Theus said. "When all is said and done, our guys played harder."

Kleiza scored 28 points for the Nuggets, who embark on a four-game road trip starting Sunday night in Seattle.

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