OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Carmelo Anthony scored 31 points, Allen Iverson added 23 and the Denver Nuggets spoiled the New Orleans Hornets' final game in their temporary home with a 107-105 victory Friday night.
The Nuggets eliminated an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit with a 16-2 run that Marcus Camby started by slamming home Nene's miss with two hands. Anthony cut the deficit to 101-100 with a putback with 2:27 remaining before Devin Brown's right-handed jam ended a string of 10 straight Nuggets points.
Iverson came back with a jumper from the left wing, and Anthony hit two free throws to give Denver its first lead since the first quarter. Steve Blake's fast-break layup pushed Denver's lead to 106-103.
Bobby Jackson drove for a layup to get the Hornets within one, and Anthony missed a foul shot as a small beach ball was thrown from the stands. Officials ruled it was thrown after he'd shot the ball.
That gave the Hornets one last chance with 17 seconds left, but all three of their shots missed in a wild sequence. Chris Paul missed a driving layup along the right baseline, Brown missed a putback after the ball went between his legs, and Jackson's desperation 3-pointer from the right wing was off target.
Nuggets players raised fists into the air to celebrate their eighth straight win, as the Hornets slowly walked toward their bench.
Denver clinched the sixth spot in the Western Conference. Only the Los Angeles Lakers can match the Nuggets' 43 wins, and Denver holds the tiebreaker by winning the season series.
Fans stood for the final 31/2 minutes, but ended up watching in disappointment as a scoreboard video recapped the Hornets' two seasons in Oklahoma City.
The loss severely damaged New Orleans' playoff hopes. The Hornets entered Friday one game behind Golden State and the Los Angeles Clippers, who were in a tie for the eighth and final playoff spot. The Hornets play their final three games on the road.
David West had 31 points and 13 rebounds to lead New Orleans. Paul added 18 points and eight assists, and Marc Jackson had 13 points and 13 rebounds. Bobby Jackson also finished with 13 points.
Camby had 15 points, 11 rebounds and a season-high nine blocks for Denver, and Blake added 10 points and 10 assists. Nene had 12 points and nine rebounds.
The Ford Center was sold out for the 30th time in 71 Oklahoma City games over the past two seasons as the Hornets made it their temporary home after Hurricane Katrina damaged the New Orleans Arena in August 2005.
The Hornets are to return to New Orleans full-time next season.
After a rousing pregame in which Hornets starters came to the court through the stands and commissioner David Stern proclaimed that he looked forward to the NBA's return to Oklahoma City, the Hornets rushed out to their most prolific first quarter of the season at the Ford Center.
The Nuggets got the first two baskets, but New Orleans came back with a 15-2 run that included a three-point play and a layup by Marc Jackson. The Hornets led 35-19 before J.R. Smith closed the quarter with a 3-pointer for Denver.
The Nuggets got within 56-53 by halftime and pulled within two on Iverson's jumper in the opening minutes of the second half.
New Orleans started pulling away again on Rasual Butler's 3-pointer, and the lead was back up to 85-72 before Denver scored the final five points of the third quarter.
Notes: Hornets coach Byron Scott said F Desmond Mason had surgery on his broken nose earlier Friday. Mason wore a bandage over his nose during pregame introductions. ... The Nuggets signed guards Anthony Carter and Von Wafer for the remainder of the season. ... Denver F Eduardo Najera, who played college basketball for Oklahoma, was called for a technical foul in the fourth quarter for arguing a foul call against Nene after West got past Najera to the basket.
(Copyright 2007. The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
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