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Nuggets get even, bounce Celtics, spoil Garnett's return

Los Angeles - The Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night got the revenge they wanted for a 26-point spanking by the Boston Celtics in November.

Carmelo Anthony had 29 points and fellow All-Star Allen Iverson added 28 as the Nuggets spoiled Kevin Garnett's return with a 124-118 victory over the visiting Celtics.

 "I feel good about what we did, since they beat us the way they did," Iverson said. "They were up 30 something points at halftime and still pressing. It left a bad taste in our mouths. We just wanted to come out and get a win regardless if it was by 30 points or one."

   Garnett returned after missing the last nine games with an abdominal muscle strain. However, the All-Star forward had just four points and eight rebounds in his short 21-minute stint.

 "For the most part everything was OK, no pain, no discomfort," Garnett said. "I'm rusty as hell. I have been out for two to three weeks and it feels like I have been out for a couple of years."

   Kenyon Martin netted 19 points while Marcus Camby collected 11 points, 13 rebounds and nine blocked shots for the Nuggets (33-20) who were 51 per cent (41-80) from the floor against the league's best defensive team.

 Paul Pierce had 24 points, Rajon Rondo added 22 for the league-best Celtics (41-10) who suffered their first season defeat in 17 matches against Western Conference teams.

 Playing in front of 19,894 rabid Denver fans - the largest regular season crowd in franchise history -, the Nuggets led by 10 with just over six minutes left to play before Garnett's dunk drew the Celtics to within 105-104 with 3:34 remaining.

 But the Nuggets went on a 13-5 run, highlighted by Camby's three- pointer that opened up a 118-109 advantage with 33.9 ticks to go.

 Ray Allen sandwiched two three-pointers around one by Eddie House strike and the Celtics were within 121-118, just 13.7 seconds left. But Anthony made two free throws and Iverson sank one to secure the win.

 Elsewhere:    LA Lakers 122, Atlanta Hawks 93    Spain's Pau Gasol made a successful home debut with 23 points and Kobe Bryant also added 23 as the Lakers routed the Hawks for their fifth straight victory.

 Lamar Odom had 17 points with 15 rebounds for the Lakers (36-17) who led by 36 at the break and coasted in the second half. Joe Johnson had 18 points, but Mike Bibby finished with just five before leaving in the third quarter in his Hawks' debut.

 Orlando Magic 103, Detroit Pistons 85    Rashard Lewis scored 20 points and Keith Bogans added 19 as the visiting Magic outscored the Pistons 63-37 in the second half to snap their 10-game winning streak. Rookie Rodney Stuckey had 16 points for the Pistons (39-14) who shot just 39 per cent from the floor.

 Houston Rockets 93, Cleveland Cavaliers 85    Rafer Alston scored 22 points with six three-pointers, Yao Ming had 16 points with 14 rebounds, and the visiting Rockets won their ninth in a row despite a triple-double by LeBron James.

 Tracy McGrady added 17 points for the Rockets (33-20) whose ninth consecutive road win matched a franchise-record. James led the Cavaliers (29-24) with 26 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists for his fifth triple-double of the season and 15th in his career.

 Minnesota Timberwolves 104, Philadelphia 76ers 88    Rashad McCants scored 20 points, Al Jefferson had 19 with 14 rebounds and the Timberwolves ended their own five game slide by snapping the Sixers' five-game run.

 New York Knicks 113, Washington Wizards 110 (OT)    Zach Randolph scored 24 points and Jamal Crawford had seven of his 21 in a franchise-record 23-point overtime session, sparking the visiting Knicks to just their second win in the last 11 outings.

 Nate Robinson, Quentin Richardson and David Lee finished with 19 apiece for the Knicks (16-37) who made all six shots, including three triples in the extra five-minute period. Antawn Jamison had 20 points and 13 rebounds for the Wizards (25-28) losers in 10 of their last 11 outings.

 San Antonio Spurs 85, Charlotte Bobcats 65    Argentine Manu Ginobili scored 18 points and the Spurs turned in their best defensive effort of the season to overcome a poor-shooting night by All-Star Tim Duncan. Duncan finished with seven points on 2- of-12 shooting, but accumulated 15 rebounds and five blocks for the defending NBA champion Spurs.

 Utah Jazz 119, Golden State Warriors 109    Deron Williams had 29 points with 12 assists, while Carlos Boozer added 16 with 12 boards and the host Jazz won for the 13th time in the last 14 games. Al Harrington led the Warriors (32-21) with 21 points.

 Seattle SuperSonics 108, Memphis Grizzlies 101    Earl Watson scored a season-high 26 points, Wally Szczerbiak had 24 and the SuperSonics overcame an early 19-point deficit along with the absence of flu-ridden leading scorer Kevin Durant to hand the Grizzlies their 10th consecutive road loss. Rudy Gay led the Grizzlies (14-39) with 23 points.

 Sacramento Kings 105, Portland Trail Blazers 94    Ron Artest scored 24 points, Francisco Garcia added 23, and the visiting Kings stopped a three-game slide. Travis Outlaw had 23 points for the Blazers (28-25), losers of five in a row.

By Paul Levine, dpa

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