for this game

Anthony helps undermanned Nuggets rally past Thunder

Feb 5, 2009 - 5:13 AM OKLAHOMA CITY (Ticker) -- Carmelo Anthony made a driving shot with 5.3 seconds left to give the shorthanded Denver Nuggets a 114-113 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday.

Playing without Chauncey Billups and Kenyon Martin, Denver battled back from a double-digit deficit.

Kevin Durant made a strong move to the basket and dropped in a layup with 17 seconds remaining to give the Thunder a 113-112 lead.

Coming out of a timeout, the Thunder got the ball to their second-year star and he did not fail, heading straight to the hoop and scoring. However, he left plenty of time on the clock for Denver to set up the game-winning play.

The inbounds pass to Anthony was deflected into the backcourt. The former Syracuse star collected it and drove the lane before knocking down the winning shot.

"I think at that point, down one with 20 seconds, I was trying to hold the ball for the last shot but coach was wanting us to hurry in case I missed we could try to get the rebound," Anthony said. "I didn't think I was going to make it, there was so many people in the lane that I was surprised that the ball got through there and got to the rim."

Oklahoma City interim coach Scott Brooks was looking for a backcourt violation on the play, but didn't get one.

"I've never seen that play not called, ever," Brooks said. "You are talking about one of the greatest officials in NBA history, he (Dick Bavetta) said, 'He didn't have possession.' I'm not sure, I've never seen it not called. It's been called on me before. That's just part of the game."

Durant missed a long shot from beyond the arc at the buzzer.

"I just wanted to get a good shot off," Durant said. "We didn't run it perfectly, and they made a switch defensively that pushed us out of our comfort zone a little. I thought it was a good shot, it looked on line, but it just didn't fall."

The Nuggets had to have a sense of role reversal from Tuesday, when they faced the San Antonio Spurs. Against Denver, the Spurs were without Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. San Antonio still managed to stretch Denver until the end of the game and coach George Karl came away unimpressed with his team's performance, despite the victory.

Without Billups (sprained right ankle) and Martin (strep throat/tonsilitis), the Nuggets appeared to have taken a page from the Spurs' playbook.

However, they fell behind by double digits, trailing at one point, 64-48, in the second quarter before launching a run.

"I think defensively we challenged them in the second half," Denver coach George Karl said. "We made some adjustments, and they weren't very diverse. They just kept beating us over the head with the same plays, and once we got that under control, we were able to take over the game."

The climb back was a long, slow grind and didn't result in a deadlock until Chris Andersen dunked off a feed from Anthony Carter to tie the game at 102-102.

Anthony led Denver with 32 points and 11 assists, while Durant scored 31 and grabbed eight rebounds to pace Oklahoma City.

"Carmelo made some great plays down the stretch, not just that game-winner," Karl said. "He made a great shot at about the two-minute mark, made a great pass that set up J.R. (Smith) for a three.

"His ability to pass the ball and set guys up may have been more important than the baskets he made for us. His playmaking is something we needed more than anything else."