Martin keys fourth-quarter rally as Nuggets upend BullsNov 24, 2008 - 6:05 AM By Derek Nagy PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
DENVER (Ticker) -- For 43 minutes, the Chicago Bulls and Denver Nuggets played a close game. The last five, however, belonged solely to the Nuggets.
Denver staged an 18-2 run over the final 5:05 Sunday night, running away with a 114-101 victory over the visiting Chicago Bulls. On a night when all four of the team's high-priced starters put it together, it was Kenyon Martin who broke it open.
The veteran forward scored nine of his 26 points during the run, including a 3-pointer with 47 seconds left that capped his perfect shooting night at 10-for-10. Chauncey Billups, Carmelo Anthony and Nene each added 21as the Nuggets won their fifth consecutive game at home. Denver lost its season opener to the Los Angeles Lakers but is 5-0 at the Pepsi Center since then.
"We're learning how to win in the fourth quarter," Martin said. "We're learning, growing as a team. It's a testament to the guys in this locker room."
Anthony's 3-pointer gave the Nuggets a 100-99 edge, then followed one possession later with an emphatic dunk to push the lead to three. Moments later, Billups dropped in a layup and drained a jump shot before feeding Martin for a dunk - and subsequent free throw after a foul - on a fast break. That broke the game open, but Martin added two more jumpers just for good measure.
Over the last five minutes of play, the Nuggets held the Bulls to 1-for-8 shooting while coming up with a key steal and a pair of blocks.
"The defense did it for us again," Anthony said. "It's funny, I tell you guys this every night, we win games on the defensive end and we did again tonight. That's the reality of it."
Denver's defense clamped down on the Bulls in the second half, holding them to just 34 percent shooting (16-for-47).
"Couple turnovers that led to easy baskets, a couple dunks and the crowd got into it," Bulls forward Drew Gooden said. "It kind of took us out of our game."
Martin recorded at least one steal for the 15th consecutive game dating to last season.
"It's about winning. It's not about anything else," Martin said. "We realized what we didn't do right in the past and we're trying to correct those things. Guys are a lot older and more matrure and we're learning how to win close games."
Ben Gordon led Chicago with 28 points and knocked down five 3-pointers for the Bulls, who lost for the third time in four games.
"We just didn't hold it together," Gordon said. "We stuck in there the entire game but toward the end, we just gave up too many easy points. We didn't get stops when we needed them."
Rookie point guard Derrick Rose collected 15 and six assists for the Bulls.
Denver led 58-54 at halftime after shooting 61 percent from the floor in the first 24 minutes.
DENVER 114 FINAL
Nov 23 11:37 PM
DENVER 83 END, 3RD QTR
Nov 23 11:03 PM
DENVER 58 HALFTIME
Nov 23 10:14 PM
DENVER 27 END, 1ST QTR
Nov 23 9:38 PM
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