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 Nuggets beat Heat 108-97

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PostSubject: Nuggets beat Heat 108-97   Thu Jan 08, 2009 5:03 pm

DENVER(AP) Nothing, not injuries and trades, can slow down the Denver Nuggets.Chauncey
Billups, Linas Kleiza and J.R. Smith scored 21 points apiece to help
the Nuggets win their fifth straight game, 108-97 over the Miami Heat
on Wednesday night.Kenyon Martin and Nene scored 14 points each
for Denver in the Nuggets' seventh victory in eight games. Denver
played without scoring leader Carmelo Anthony, out at least three weeks
after fracturing a finger on his right hand Monday.In his absence, the rest of the team picked up the slack."That
shows the character of this team, that we've got a lot of first-class
guys,'' guard Anthony Carter said. "If they're playing or not playing,
they're ready when their number's called.''Dwyane Wade had 31 points, and Shawn Marion added 25 for the Heat, 1-3 in their last four games."We
made Wade work for most of his shots,'' Nuggets coach George Karl said.
"We kept him off the free-throw line and a lot of his shots came off
the jump shot.''Wade and Marion combined for 31 of Miami's 49 points in the second half."I
wouldn't say we contained Wade, because he had 31, but we kept their
role players to a minimum,'' Smith said. "Stars will do what they do,
but keep everybody else to a minimum.''Anthony's absence put a
damper on longtime ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale's
presence at the game. Vitale, who covered Anthony's first game at
Syracuse in 2002, called the game as part of a swap worked out by the
network.ESPN's normal NBA broadcast team of Mike Tirico, Jeff
Van Gundy and Mark Jackson covered the Duke-Davidson game, while Vitale
and play-by-play man Dan Shulman worked the Nuggets-Heat game.Earlier
Wednesday, the Nuggets traded guard Chucky Atkins and a conditional
first-round pick to Oklahoma City for center Johan Petro and a
second-round pick.The loss of Anthony and the trade didn't seem
to bother the Nuggets. After Miami cut an 11-point halftime lead to
three midway through the third quarter, Billups and Kleiza hit
3-pointers to spark a 10-2 run that gave Denver a 74-63 lead."You
could see they didn't need him,'' Wade said about Anthony. "The guys
off the bench stepped up. They have plenty of players that can score.''The
Heat climbed within six twice, but Smith hit two jumpers, the last with
1.1 seconds left in the third, to push the lead back to 11."You
look at who played great tonight, and it's no coincidence,'' Billups
said about Kleiza and Smith. "Those guys were awesome. They stepped up
and were very aggressive.''After Martin's two free throws gave
Denver an 85-72 lead early in the fourth, Miami scored 10 straight
points, capped by Yahkouba Diawara's 3-pointer.Denver never gave
up the lead, though. Ahead 99-93 with 2:15 left, a Billups' steal led
to a dunk by Smith and Miami never got closer than eight in the final
minutes."We had our chances,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We got it to three so many times in the game.''Kleiza,
starting in place of Anthony, had seven points in second period and
Billups, who got into early foul trouble, had nine in the quarter to
give Denver a 59-48 lead at the half."I thought the tempo of the game was fast, and the advantage for us was LK in the open court,'' Karl said.Kleiza started the game fast, hitting two 3-pointers and scoring eight points in the first quarter."I was playing to what the game presented to me,'' Kleiza said. "I wasn't trying to force it or anything.''Notes:
The Heat traded G Shaun Livingston to Memphis for a conditional
second-round draft pick in 2012. The Grizzlies then waived Livingston.
... Spoelstra said G Daequan Cook (bruised left knee) didn't play as a
precaution. ... The Nuggets' 25-12 record is their best start since the
1976-77 season, their first in the NBA. ... The Nuggets are 12-1 when
holding teams under 100 points.

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