Boston at Denver

Nuggets spoil Garnett's return, end Celtics' perfection vs. West

CBSSports.com wire reports
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DENVER -- Allen Iverson felt no satisfaction from knocking off the top team in the league, just added pressure.

Carmelo Anthony scored 29 points, Iverson added 28 and the Denver Nuggets spoiled the return of Kevin Garnett, holding on for a 124-118 victory over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night.

"Winning this game puts a lot of pressure on us, because if you can beat a team like this, then you can beat all the other teams," Iverson said. "We have enough talent to scare some people, but we just have to bring it night in and night out."

The Nuggets even beat the Celtics at full strength -- kind of. Garnett, who's been out since Jan. 25 with a strained abdominal muscle, wasn't his flashy self, finishing with four points on 2-of-7 shooting in close to 21 minutes of action. He also had eight rebounds.

"It was good to get back," said Garnett, who planned to play Wednesday night at Golden State. "It felt good."

His coach didn't mince words when asked about his star's performance.

"Not very good," said Rivers, whose team was 16-0 against the Western Conference before the loss. "But you have to expect that when he sits out that long. He was rusty."

Garnett would agree with the assessment. He felt a little winded, but chalked it up to the Mile High City.

"It feels like I've been out for a couple of years," he said. "There wasn't a lot of air out there."

His legs, though, felt rejuvenated. The nine-game break did him wonders.

"I felt like I was 27," Garnett said. "I felt young."

Garnett came in averaging 19.2 points and 9.9 rebounds this season, and anchoring a Celtics defense that's allowing an NBA-low 89.4 points per game.

However, the Nuggets dictated the pace of play, scoring the most points against the Celtics this season. The previous high was 114 points scored by Toronto and Cleveland.

"We didn't want to get into an offensive shootout," Rivers said. "We did that and still had a chance to win."

Paul Pierce scored 24 points and Rajon Rondo added 22. Ray Allen, fresh off his 28-point performance at Sunday's All-Star game, scored 14 of his 20 points in the first quarter. He went 2-for-10 after the opening 12 minutes.

But Allen almost helped bring the Celtics back. He cut the lead to 121-118 on a 3-pointer with 13 seconds remaining when Anthony jumped up to grab his shot that was short of the rim. However, Anthony was called for goaltending. And although the Nuggets held on, Nuggets coach George Karl was upset about the call.

"Wow," Karl said. "He (referee Bennie Adams) likes making big calls and bad calls at the end of the game. How can you call goaltending when the ball is halfway below the rim?"

Anthony didn't understand the call, either.

"I could have stood right under the basket and not even jump and it would have fell right into my hands," Anthony said.

The Nuggets can't complain too much about the officiating -- they were sent to the line a season-high 49 times, hitting 34 of them. The Celtics were 19 of 28 from the free throw line.

"We got a good whistle," Karl said.

Now, he's hoping that with this win comes a little more respect.

"I think the team deserves better acceptance for what it's done," Karl said.

Not that Iverson is putting much stock in one game.

"I don't look at it as we beat the best team in the league, a win is a win," Iverson said. "Obviously, we can compete with anybody. No one seems to know how much talent we have."

Notes

  • The Suns and Nuggets will play an outdoor game in Indian Wells, Calif., during the 2008-09 preseason. Camby said he may have to work on his jumper to make it more aerodynamic. "I have a high release -- it's probably not too good outdoors," he said.
  • Celtics F Brian Scalabrine was out with a strained right groin.
  • Denver is 22-6 at the Pepsi Center this season.
  • Boston F Leon Powe had 13 points and tied a season high with 11 rebounds.
  • The Nuggets had 19,894 fans in attendance, the largest regular season crowd in franchise history.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
 
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While Kevin Garnett shakes off the rust, Allen Iverson maintains his All-Star form and scores 28.  (AP)
While Kevin Garnett shakes off the rust, Allen Iverson maintains his All-Star form and scores 28. (AP)

Scoreboard
Boston (41-10) 31312234118
Denver (33-20) «36262636124
BOS:P. Pierce 24 Pts
BOS:L. Powe 11 Reb
BOS:P. Pierce 7 Ast
DEN:C. Anthony 29 Pts
DEN:M. Camby 13 Reb
DEN:A. Iverson 9 Ast
Players of the Game
DenverBoston

A. Iverson

P. Pierce
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
28792467
Boston
P. Pierce, SG418-186-767424
R. Allen, SG368-190-035520
R. Rondo, PG309-153-641622
K. Garnett, PF212-70-08004
K. Perkins, C101-10-02022
J. Posey, SF374-102-461513
L. Powe, PF214-105-8110413
T. Allen, SG194-51-12129
E. House, SG184-130-02349
G. Davis, PF70-12-23112
S. Pollard, CDid Not Play
B. Scalabrine, PFDid Not Play
G. Pruitt, PGDid Not Play
Totals 44-9919-28471933118
 44.4%67.9% 
Denver
A. Iverson, SG457-1614-2079328
M. Camby, C404-82-4133511
C. Anthony, SF398-1712-1374529
A. Carter, PG325-103-548414
K. Martin, PF288-123-761619
E. Najera, PF212-30-02115
L. Kleiza, SF184-50-043211
J. Smith, SG173-90-02007
C. Atkins, PGDid Not Play
S. Hunter, PFDid Not Play
Nene, PFDid Not Play
V. Wafer, SGDid Not Play
Y. Diawara, SGDid Not Play
Totals 41-8034-49452926124
 51.2%69.4% 
Other Games
Hou 93 Final
Cle 85
NY 113 Final
Wash 100
Orl 103 Final
Det 85
Phi 88 Final
Min 104
Char 65 Final
SA 85
GS 109 Final
Utah 119
Sac 105 Final
Port 94
Mem 101 Final
Sea 108
Atl 93 Final
LAL 122