for this game

Nuggets give stars a break, but still beat Grizzlies

Apr 17, 2008 - 5:18 AM DENVER (Ticker) -- Allen Iverson and the Denver Nuggets couldn't move up in the Western Conference standings, but they went out and got a big win anyway.

Iverson scored 21 points in a limited role as the Nuggets rolled to a 120-111 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies in the regular season finale for both teams on Wednesday.

The Nuggets clinched the eighth and final playoff spot on Monday when the Golden State Warriors lost to the Phoenix Suns. They had an outside shot at moving up to the seventh spot in the West, but Dallas beat New Orleans at home earlier Wednesday to lock Denver into the eighth spot.

"This is what I cherish about the game," Allen Iverson said. "Playing under the bright lights and big stage in L.A. will be fun. They beat us all three times this year. What more motivation do we need."

With its playoff destiny already determined, Denver rested its stars for a large part of the game but still managed to record its 50th win of the season. The Nuggets will need the extra rest, as they face the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers in the first round.

"We're going to be playing a great team in L.A.," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "We are also going to have to stop the best player in the game. It's pretty special to win 50 games though. People should be proud. The West is a special conference this year."

Iverson played only 20 minutes and Carmelo Anthony scored 17 points in 21 minutes. J.R. Smith scored 13 points off the bench.

Anthony was returning to the court for the first time since his arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence. The Nuggets' second-leading scorer, Anthony was stopped by police just hours after Denver's 111-94 victory over Houston on Sunday.

"Our focus level is going to have to be 10 times better than it was in the regular season," Anthony said. "We know what L.A. is about, we just have to go out there and stop it."

Kyle Lowry scored 22 points for Memphis, which lost for the 60th time this season.

"It started as a good game," Grizzlies coach Marc Iavaroni said. "They quickly showed they are a better team. We are optimistic about the future. We have salary cap room, a lottery pick, and two first-round picks."