for this game

'Melo's 36 points get Nuggets back on track

Apr 9, 2008 - 6:30 AM By Jonathan Raber PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES -- In what's shaped up as a two-team race, the Denver Nuggets are hoping to have re-discovered their stride.

Carmelo Anthony scored 22 of his 36 points in the opening half to lead the Nuggets to an important 117-99 victory over the lowly Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday.

Allen Iverson finished with 21 points and Marcus Camby added 13 and 18 rebounds for Denver, which avoided its third straight loss to a non-playoff bound squad.

The Nuggets (47-31) remained tied with the Golden State Warriors for the eighth and final postseason spot in the loaded Western Conference. Denver travels to Golden State on Thursday.

"We came down hard on ourselves after those two losses and realized that our backs are against the wall right now," Anthony said. "We had to come out here and get this one."

"It's a big game," Iverson said of the looming battle. "But, (Tuesday) was a big game. It was an extremely big game, and the rest of them are going to be big." Anthony had combined for 85 points in his previous two outings, but Denver suffered bad losses to Sacramento and Seattle over the weekend.

"Shots have just been falling," Anthony said. "These are games that I need to step up, we need to step up as a team, and go out there and do whatever we need to do."

The injury-plagued Clippers held a one-point lead early in the second before the Nuggets started to pull away for good.

The Nuggets used an impressive 17-4 run to forge a 63-47 advantage at the break. They opened up their largest lead in the third when Linas Kleiza hit a 3-pointer from the corner to make it 91-67.

"We went into the halftime with a good lead and our whole thing was not stop doing the things that got us the lead," Iverson said. "Just keep playing that same way."

Cuttino Mobley scored 25 points and Elton Brand added 17 in his fourth game back from a season-long injury for the Clippers, who have dropped 22 of 26 games.

Tuesday's game was Fan Appreciation Day for the Clippers, although players would be quick to admit that the season hasn't lived up to expectations.

"It's been a tough year and (the fans) have always been supporting us, so I didn't want us or them to give up," Brand said. "We're just going to have to get it together. We have the talent, we just have to get it on the court. Once we get healthy, then we can play, and it won't be like this."

Los Angeles played without its two top scorers in Chris Kaman (ankle) and Corey Maggette (hamstring) due to various injuries.

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