Nuggets clinch division crown, home-court edge

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J.R. Smith's career-high 45 points and franchise-best 11 3-pointers helped the Denver Nuggets clinch the Northwest Division title and home-court edge in a playoff series for the first time in 21 years with a 118-98 win over the Sacramento Kings on Monday night.

With chants of "J.R." cascading from the rafters, Smith sank half of his 3s in the fourth quarter, when he scored 23 points.

The Nuggets (54-27) tied their franchise record for most wins since joining the NBA in 1976. They can break that mark with a victory in their regular-season finale Wednesday night at Portland.

Denver clinched at least the third seed in the Western Conference. The Nuggets would secure the No. 2 seed with a win at Portland or if Houston loses at Dallas on Wednesday night.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)



 
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