for this game

Kleiza pours in 41 as Nuggets top Jazz

Jan 18, 2008 - 6:13 AM By Blake Redabaugh PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

DENVER (Ticker) - The Denver Nuggets were perfectly happy with not being led in scoring by one of their two superstars.

Linas Kleiza scored a career-high 41 points and Allen Iverson added 28 and dished out nine assists as the Nuggets defeated the Utah Jazz, 120-109, on Thursday night at the Pepsi Center.

Marcus Camby had eight points and collected 24 rebounds for Denver, marking his eighth game with 20 or more rebounds this season.

Carmelo Anthony and Iverson had led the Nuggets in scoring in each of the team's previous 37 games this season before Kleiza, who scored 20 of his points in the second quarter, ended that streak.

The 22-year-old Lithuanian, who had gone over 20 points just twice this season, shot 13-of-21 from the floor and 4-of-8 from the arc while grabbing nine rebounds in a season-high 42 minutes.

"I was definitely in the zone tonight," Kleiza said. "I was able to leak out tonight with a guy like Marcus Camby under the basket who gets every rebound, so that made a difference. Everybody did a great job of getting me the ball."

"No way could I have predicted 41 points," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "I wish everyone ran the way Linas Kleiza runs."

Deron Williams scored 23 and dished out 12 assists for the Jazz, who had a four-game winning streak snapped. Carlos Boozer added 18 and Mehmet Okur chipped in with 16.

"We have got to share the ball and we cannot take the first shot," Okur said. "Hopefully we learned our lesson from this game."

The Northwest Division rivals, who met for the first of four times this season, played a closely contested first half that featured 10 ties, five lead changes and a 61-59 edge for Denver at the break.

Newly acquired sharpshooter Kyle Korver helped Utah stay close in the first half, scoring all 16 of his points during the first 24 minutes, including four 3-pointers.

Denver, which snapped a two-game losing streak, used an impressive third quarter to extend its lead to 98-88. The Nuggets shot 13-for-23 (57 percent) and Anthony scored 14 of his 23 during the period.

"We did a good job in the first half, but in the second half they got away from us a little bit," Boozer said. "(Kleiza) got a lot of his stuff on the fast breaks and we didn't do a good job getting back on our transition defense."

Denver, which moved into a tie with Portland for first place in the Northwest Division, opened the fourth quarter with an 8-1 surge and the Jazz never got any closer than the final margin the rest of the way.

"I give Denver credit," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "They took us out of all the stuff that we like to do. They were better than we were by far."

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