Nuggets 95, Warriors 92

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DENVER (AP) – Carmelo Anthony scored 28 points and the Denver Nuggets clinched at least a tie for their first division title in 18 years, holding off the Golden State Warriors 95-92 Saturday night after learning teammate Julius Hodge had been shot the night before.

Marcus Camby grabbed 17 rebounds and blocked eight shots for Denver, which can clinch the Northwest Division title with one more win or a loss by Utah.

Derek Fisher and Ike Diogu had 19 points each for Golden State, which has lost eight straight.

Hodge was shot around 2 a.m. as he drove home from visiting a friend at a nightclub Friday night. Though he was listed in fair condition and is expected to fully recover in a few weeks, the incident left the Nuggets a bit shaken.

“I thought we did have some karma in practice this morning, but everybody was a bit down. I know I was,” Nuggets coach George Karl said.

Denver needed an easy night after a pair of difficult games – a win and a loss – earlier in the week and hearing the news about Hodge.

The Nuggets didn’t get it.

Denver got off to a sluggish start to let the undermanned Warriors stay close, then went on an 11-2 run late in the second quarter to go up 52-40 at the half. Instead of pulling away, the Nuggets struggled at both ends in the third quarter, allowing Golden State to get within 71-68 by the time it was over.

The Warriors tied it early in the fourth quarter and went up 87-84 on Monta Ellis’ 3-pointer with 4 minutes left.

Denver went up 93-90 on a pair of free throws by Anthony with just over a minute left, then got it to 94-90 when Camby hit 1-of-2 free throws. Fisher hit two free throws at the other end with 7.4 seconds left to make it 94-92. Golden State had a chance after Andre Miller made only one foul shot at the other end, but the Warriors couldn’t get a tying shot off.

Golden State played without guard Baron Davis for the 13th straight game because of a sprained ankle and had to do without Jason Richardson, who’s been bothered by sore knees. Playing without its top two scorers, who combine for 41.4 points per game, wasn’t exactly what a team that had lost seven straight games needed.

With Mike Dunleavy and Fisher as their only true scoring threats, the Warriors couldn’t muster much offense early, hitting only eight of 26 shots in the first quarter and shooting 34 percent in the first half. It didn’t help that Dunleavy and Fisher went a combined 3-for-15 in the half and Camby was all over the place on defense, swatting four shots in the first quarter.

Dunleavy and Fisher shrugged off their poor shooting in the first half, leading Golden State back in the third quarter. Dunleavy had 14 of his 18 points in the second half and Fisher had 12 after the break.

Notes: Nuggets F Kenyon Martin missed his second straight game with knee tendinitis. .. Golden State’s Troy Murphy had 19 rebounds.

AP-ES-04-08-06 2347EDT

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