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Anthony's shot lifts Nuggets past Thunder

Jan 3, 2009 - 5:47 AM OKLAHOMA CITY (Ticker) -- Carmelo Anthony had an emphatic answer for Kevin Durant's late-game heroics.

Anthony sank the game-winning 3-pointer with one-tenths of a second remaining as the Denver Nuggets stunned the Oklahoma City Thunder, 122-120, on Friday.

Kevin Durant had given the Thunder a 120-119 lead moments earlier, when he came around a screen on the left wing and drilled a shot over Anthony with 2.7 seconds left.

But the Nuggets' All-Star answered, receiving an inbounds pass in the left corner and connecting on his second 3-pointer of the game to give Denver the win and silence the Oklahoma City crowd.

"I don't think I could have been any closer to (Durant) when he took it," Anthony said. "During the timeout I told the guys that, 'I was going to get open, 2.7 seconds is a long time.'

"When I got the ball, Desmond (Mason) gave me a little room to cut off a drive, and I watched his feet. I caught him leaning back just a little bit and I hit the shot."

Anthony had 31 points and Nene added 27 and 14 rebounds, shooting 10-of-11 from the floor for the Nuggets, who have won four of their last five.

"Durant made an incredible shot and 'Melo hit one on top of him," Denver coach George Karl said. "That's how the NBA works some nights."

Durant had 33 points and nine rebounds to pace Oklahoma City, which was denied its first two-game winning streak of the season.

"Heck of game. Nobody deserved to lose tonight," Thunder interim coach Scott Brooks said. "It should have gone to overtime, then another overtime, and another overtime. Carmelo hit a tough, contested shot.

"Desmond was on him, it was just a tough shot. We continue to go through these close games, in the long run, this team is going to get better."

The Thunder closed the second quarter on a 14-3 run to take a 64-53 advantage at the break. Earl Watson scored six points during the run as Oklahoma City made its final seven shots from the field.

Oklahoma City went up by as many as 14 early in the third before Denver trimmed the margin to 92-89 with under one minute to play in the quarter. Chris Wilcox and Damien Wilkins answered with consecutive baskets to give the Thunder a 96-89 lead entering the fourth.

The Nuggets stayed within striking distance early in the fourth quarter and took a 109-107 lead with 3:50 left as Anthony capped a 7-0 run with a pair of free throws.

Rookie Russell Westbrook put the Thunder in front, 113-111, with 2:38 remaining but Nene tied the game on a tip-in and Chauncey Billups followed with a 3-pointer from the left corner to give the Nuggets a three-point lead with 1:45 to play.

"Nene is a very efficient player, he plays the game right, plays hard around the basket, makes great cuts and is a smart player," Karl said. "He had a great game, but as you can see, we needed every point possible."

The teams traded baskets until Durant's layup cut Oklahoma City's deficit to 119-117 with 28 seconds left before the late game drama.

"I stood there on the floor looking at the jumbotron, I couldn't believe it went in," Durant said of Anthony's shot. "Our guy had pressure on him and he still knocked it down. It was a well-played game, we fought hard all game, we played hard, guys contributed. It is tough to come into the locker room after you lose on a buzzer-beater."