for this game

Kleiza leads balanced effort as Nuggets top Bucks

Nov 19, 2008 - 5:51 AM By Blake Redabaugh PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

DENVER (Ticker) -- It may not have been pretty offense, but it got the job done.

The Denver Nuggets picked up their third win in a row Tuesday night, outlasting the Milwaukee Bucks, 114-105, in a messy, physical showdown.

With the win, they kept their hot streak alive since acquiring point guard Chauncey Billups. Denver is now 6-1 since trading Allen Iverson to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Billups on November 3.

Tuesday's game - which lasted more than 2 1/2 hours - featured 62 fouls and 72 free throws, but the Nuggets managed to win comfortably despite all the physicality. Linas Kleiza came off the bench to score 25, hitting 13-of-15 from the line and leading seven Nuggets in double figures.

"We're definitely trying get to the free-throw line," Kleiza said. "We are trying to move the ball, drive and get to the rim."

"Linas Kleiza was running better tonight than I thought he has run in a long time," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "The ball found him in good positions."

Denver, which has won 10 of its last 12 meetings with Milwaukee, improved to 7-4 to pull into a first-place tie with the Utah Jazz in the Northwest Division.

After taking a big lead in the first half, the Nuggets were able to give everyone a bit of extra rest. All-Star Carmelo Anthony got the Nuggets off to hot start, as he scored 11 of his 17 points in the first quarter to give Denver a 34-28 advantage through 12 minutes.

"We jumped on them early and then never really gave them life," Billups said. "The good teams do that. When they get teams down, they don't give them life. I thought we were great on both ends tonight."

It was the Nuggets' bench, though, that blew the game open at the beginning of the second quarter.

After Joe Alexander's layup to open up the second cut Denver's lead to 34-30, the Nuggets staged a 14-0 run over the next five minutes. Reserves Anthony Carter, Renaldo Balkman and Kleiza each scored four points during the surge as Billups and Anthony cheered on from the bench.

"I was happy to get some rest out there and to see everybody contributing to the game and to the win," Anthony said. "It feels so good for me right now because I don't have to try and score 30 points."

Milwaukee, which trailed for double digits for almost the entire rest of the game, were led by Charlie Bell's 25 points on 9-of-18 shooting. Richard Jefferson chipped in with 12, but battled foul trouble that limited him to just 23 minutes on the floor.

"We let them get to the line," Jefferson said. "We were a step slow today. It's frustrating when you are done in the first half. And I have to apologize to my teammates because I haven't played well the last few games."

"We weren't ready to play," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. "It was a very poor effort all the way around."

The Bucks were without leading scorer Michael Redd for the eighth straight game due to a sprained right ankle. They fell to 3-5 without the Olympian, but are hopeful for his return for Wednesday night's road showdown against the Utah Jazz.

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