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Billups, Nuggets run away from Pacers; Anthony hurt

Jan 6, 2009 - 6:24 AM By Blake Redabaugh PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

DENVER (Ticker) -- Chauncey Billups collected 24 points and 11 assists and Kenyon Martin added 25 points to lead the Denver Nuggets to a 135-115 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Monday.

Carmelo Anthony chipped in 21 points for the Nuggets despite injuring his right hand in the third quarter when Pacers center Jeff Foster slapped it while going for the basketball.

It was revealed after the game that he has a probable non-displaced fracture of his third metacarpal. He is scheduled to see a hand specialist Tuesday.

Denver was clinging to a 97-94 lead after Danny Granger hit a 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter, but Billups went off for 13 points in the final period and capped a 23-5 run with a

3-pointer to put the Nuggets up, 120-99, with 6:07 left.

"We ran out of gas in the fourth quarter," Pacers coach Jim O'Brien said. "You have to play a tougher brand of defensive basketball than we did. We did not do anything to prevent them from putting that many points on the board."

"Guys did an excellent job focusing in when we needed to in the fourth quarter," Martin said. "We seem to make easy games harder than it needs to be, but I'll take the win."

Granger finished with 36 points for the Pacers, who had their two-game winning streak snapped and have not won three in a row since November 8-12.

"It was one of those nights where our defense wasn't that great and they were executing really well on offense," Granger said. "They're a very good overall team."

Denver, which defeated the Pacers for the eighth time in nine games, squandered a large lead but prevailed in the end for the second straight game. On Saturday against the New Orleans

Hornets, the Nuggets blew a 26-point third-quarter lead but came away with a 105-100 victory.

"The next step for us is being able hold that lead," Billups said. "We need to keep the pedal to the medal and have our starters get rest in the fourth quarter."

In this one, Denver raced out to a 38-18 advantage with 2:53 remaining in the first quarter after Anthony's slam dunk. However, Indiana recovered thanks to the hot hands of Granger and Troy Murphy as the duo combined for 41 points in the first half and were a combined 6-of-12 from 3-point range to pull the Pacers within 74-70 at the break.

Granger's layup with 8:27 left in the third quarter tied the game at 80-80 but the Pacers were never able to take away the lead.

"We never lost our concentration and commitment," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "Indiana actually caused us to have a more fundamentally sound game because of them getting back in the game."

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