Anthony scores 30 as Nuggets beat Jazz, 114-105

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DENVER (AP) -- Carmelo Anthony had a game-high 30 points and rookie Ty Lawson scored seven of his 17 points in a pivotal fourth-quarter run, lifting the Denver Nuggets to a season-opening 114-105 win over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night.

Chauncey Billups finished with 25 while Kenyon Martin added 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Deron Williams led Utah with 28 points and 13 assists. Andrei Kirilenko and Ronnie Brewer each contributed 16 on a night when two-time All-Star Carlos Boozer struggled, finishing 3 of 14 and scoring 12 points -- most coming late. He also had 11 rebounds.

Lawson ignited a 9-0 run to open the fourth quarter, scoring on driving layups and quick jumpers to help the Nuggets pull away in what had been a close contest.

The North Carolina product also had six assists as he provided a spark off the bench.

Denver took the lead for good with time winding down in the third quarter when Billups was fouled by Williams on a 3-point attempt with four-tenths of a second left. Billups made all three free throws to stake the Nuggets to an 82-80 lead.

Anthony put the exclamation on the win with a slam dunk over Paul Millsap with just over 6 minutes remaining, giving the Nuggets a double-digit lead.

Anthony was coming off a torrid preseason, leading the league with a 23.6 scoring clip.

Before the opening tip, Anthony grabbed the microphone and thanked the capacity crowd for braving the weather to attend the game. The Mile High City was blanketed with nearly a foot of blowing snow throughout the day.

With the Jazz already in town, though, there was no thought given to canceling the contest.

The Nuggets, who are coming off a trip to the Western Conference finals, unveiled their Northwest Division banner before the game. Denver and Utah have won the last four division crowns, capturing two apiece.

That's why, although early, this was a crucial divisional game for the two squads, at least as far as tiebreakers are concerned. Nuggets coach George Karl said the schedule makers did them no favors by having this contest so early.

Denver plays in Portland on Thursday night, another top contender in the division.

The Nuggets were missing the long-range touch of J.R. Smith as he served the first of a league-mandated seven-game suspension for pleading guilty to reckless driving over the summer.

Veteran Anthony Carter got the start and finished with two points. But it was Lawson who fueled the Nuggets late, blazing past Jazz defenders.

The Jazz were short-handed as well, playing without Matt Harpring (ankle, knee), C.J. Miles (left thumb) and Kyle Korver (left knee). Korver had arthroscopic surgery on his knee in New York on Wednesday. He will return to Salt Lake City for rehab and will be re-evaluated on Nov. 9.

Utah received a scare 24 seconds into the game when center Mehmet Okur hobbled to the locker room after trying to draw a charge on Nene.

But he returned late in the first quarter wearing a flexible brace on his left knee.

Okur had 13 points and six rebounds.

The Jazz led by as many as nine points in the second quarter, but the Nuggets cut the lead to 55-54 at halftime on a driving layup by Anthony in the closing seconds.

NOTES: This is just the second time the Nuggets have hosted the Jazz in the season opener. Denver beat Utah, 139-125, on Oct. 28, 1983, at the defunct McNichols Sports Arena. ... Nuggets mascot Rocky descended from the Pepsi Center ceiling as part of a balloon-boy spoof, drawing only a smattering of applause when he got out of the aluminum balloon shaped like the one that made national headlines after it floated away from a Colorado family's home. ... Official Leroy Richardson was briefly examined by the Nuggets training staff after tumbling coming up the court in the fourth quarter.

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


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