Play Fantasy Use your Fantasy skills to win Cash Prizes. Join or start a league today. Play Now

Houston at Denver

Carmelo scores 30-plus for fifth straight game; Nuggets down Rockets

CBSSports.com wire reports
  •  

DENVER -- Drawing on their depth and leaning once again on Carmelo Anthony's offense, the Denver Nuggets withstood the loss of Chauncey Billups to a groin injury for a 111-101 victory over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night.

They may soon face more tests without their star point guard.

Anthony scored 38 points, his fifth straight 30-plus point performance, and the Nuggets were able to win despite missing Billups for most of the second half.

The team said Billups, who had 15 points before leaving with 9 minutes left in the third quarter, would undergo a precautionary MRI and officially was listed as day to day.

Nuggets Coach George Karl said he anticipated being without Billups for at least a couple of games. The Nuggets play at New Orleans on Friday and if Billups can't go, either rookie Ty Lawson or veteran Anthony Carter would likely start in his place.

Both Lawson (six points and six assists) and Carter (five points) delivered key baskets and helped facilitate the Nuggets' offense after Billups' exit. So did reserve J.R. Smith, who added 21 points for the Nuggets, winners of five straight at home since their only loss of the season at the Pepsi Center, 106-100 to Minnesota on Nov. 29.

"Everybody tonight did their part," Anthony said. "A.C. [Carter] came in and played well and he seems to always do that when he is called."

Added Kenyon Martin: "A.C.'s a professional. He stays ready. That's what it's about. J.R.'s capable of handing the ball, 'Melo handles the ball a lot."

And so does Lawson, whose speed brings an added dimension to the offense.

"Hopefully, Chauncey comes back soon but I've got to be ready," Lawson said.

Aaron Brooks scored 23 points for Houston, which lost the second game of a back-to-back set for the first time this season. The Rockets were 5-0 previously in the second game of back-to-backs, including completing their first sweep of a two-game set earlier this month.

"When we made a run, they made a run right back at us," said Trevor Ariza, who had 18 points for the Rockets. "Anytime they needed a stop or they needed to get it going, they did and we didn't."

There was no letup on their part even after Billups left, Ariza added.

"J.R. definitely got it going, 'Melo got it going again," Ariza said. "He did what he's been doing every night, doing a lot of scoring and making plays for his team, and we couldn't do anything about it today."

Houston's Tracy McGrady played sparingly in his second game since returning from microfracture surgery on his left knee, missing the only shot he took in seven minutes of play.

"Being hurt last season, having the microfracture surgery, the progress I had to make to get to this point, it's been a long road," said McGrady, who tested himself by guarding Anthony in the second quarter. "The biggest question is, 'Can I come out and get up and down the court without having any pain in my knee?' I felt fine, wasn't favoring it. My knee is holding up pretty fine."

Down seven at halftime, Houston tied it at 71 when Ariza converted a three-point play. But consecutive 3-pointers by Anthony and Smith helped Denver regain command, and the Nuggets took an 85-78 lead into the fourth quarter.

From there, Denver scored 10 of the first 14 points in the fourth quarter, including two baskets by Anthony to open a 95-82 lead with 6:52 remaining. Anthony, the NBA's leading scorer, made 19 of 20 free throws, including six straight in the closing moments to help hold off the Rockets.

After a tip-in by Ariza pulled the Rockets within 49-46, the Nuggets scored nine of the next 13 points, culminating with a reverse layup by Lawson to put Denver up 58-51 at halftime.

Houston started out strong, taking a 19-11 lead on Ariza's 22-foot jumper with 4:23 left in the first period. Denver got a three-point play from Anthony to start an 11-0 run, putting the Nuggets back in front.

Notes

  • Houston coach Rick Adelman said before the game McGrady would be brought along gradually. "He's been out a whole year. We're not going to push his minutes right now," Adelman said.
  • Anthony has scored 30 or more points in 17 games this season, four more than he had last season.
  • Denver Broncos WR Brandon Marshall watched the game from a courtside seat.
  • The Nuggets snapped a three-game losing streak to Houston and improved their home record to 12-1.
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.
 
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
Shane Battier and the Rockets can do little to stop Carmelo Anthony, who ends with 38 points.  (AP)
Shane Battier and the Rockets can do little to stop Carmelo Anthony, who ends with 38 points. (AP)

Scoreboard
Houston (14-11) 21302723101
Denver (19-7) «25332726111
HOU:A. Brooks 23 Pts
HOU:D. Andersen 9 Reb
HOU:A. Brooks 7 Ast
DEN:C. Anthony 38 Pts
DEN:C. Andersen 11 Reb
DEN:T. Lawson 6 Ast
Players of the Game
DenverHouston

C. Anthony

A. Brooks
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
38932317
Houston
T. Ariza, SG357-183-384318
S. Battier, SF314-80-044511
A. Brooks, PG307-156-717123
L. Scola, PF274-51-28119
C. Hayes, PF202-70-07134
C. Landry, PF275-102-260512
K. Lowry, PG270-22-22612
D. Andersen, C216-82-290217
C. Budinger, SF140-42-20142
T. McGrady, SG80-10-00010
J. Taylor, SG10-10-00000
B. Cook, PF11-20-00013
Y. Ming, CDid Not Play
J. Dorsey, PFDid Not Play
Totals 36-8118-20452427101
 44.4%90.0% 
Denver
C. Anthony, SF439-2319-2093338
K. Martin, PF344-110-05119
Nene, C324-81-24049
C. Billups, PG205-83-303115
A. Afflalo, SG191-40-02022
J. Smith, SG299-141-333321
C. Andersen, PF271-22-411054
T. Lawson, PG223-80-03616
A. Carter, PG112-40-00125
M. Allen, PF41-10-02102
J. Graham, SFDid Not Play
J. Petro, CDid Not Play
R. Balkman, SFDid Not Play
Totals 39-8326-32391822111
 47.0%81.2% 
Other Games
Mem 97 Final
Atl 110
Char 98 Final
Ind 101
Tor 99 Final
Orl 118
Cle 108 Final
Phi 101
Utah 108 Final
NJ 92
Det 87 Final
NO 95
LAL 107 Final
Mil 106
LAC 120 Final
Min 95
Dal 100 Final
OKC 86
Wash 109 Final
Sac 112
SA 103 Final
GS 91