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Balanced Nuggets continue to roll

3/31/2011

The Denver Nuggets won their fourth straight game Wednesday night as Ty Lawson led six Nuggets in double figures with 20 points. The win bumped the Nuggets to 13-4 since trading Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups to the New York Knicks on February 22, the first day after the All-Star break. Denver, in seventh place in the Western Conference at the All-Star break, has quietly climbed to fifth and is arguably playing its best post-break basketball since 2005, when the Nuggets led all teams with a 25-4 record in the second half of the season.

One key to the Nuggets second-half surge has been their ability to protect their home court. Denver is 9-0 at the Pepsi Center after the All-Star break and is outscoring its opponents by 19.7 points per game over that span. Earlier this month, the Nuggets became the first team in NBA history to record three straight home wins by 30 more or points.

They have now topped the 100-point mark in each of their last seven games at home (all wins). The only other teams to win seven straight home games while reaching triple digits in each this season are the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Nuggets This Season

Hosting a 1st Round playoff series is not out of the question for the Nuggets, who trail the Oklahoma City Thunder by five games with eight games remaining in the race for the four-seed out West. Denver would need some help from Oklahoma City to catch the Thunder, but head-to-head matchups against Kevin Durant and crew on April 5 and April 8 could make things interesting.

Elsewhere in the NBA on Wednesday:

• The Atlanta Hawks knocked off the Orlando Magic by three in a meeting between teams likely to meet in the 1st Round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Hawks finish the season 3-1 vs the Magic, the first time they’ve won the season series vs Orlando since 2006-07.

• The Miami Heat beat the Washington Wizards 123-107 to stay two-and-a-half games behind the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference. The Heat are now 14-4 when playing on zero days’ rest this season. Only the Los Angeles Lakers (10-2) have a better record on no days’ rest.

• Carmelo Anthony scored 39 points to lead the Knicks past the New Jersey Nets. It was Anthony’s third straight game with at least 35 points. That’s tied with LaMarcus Aldridge and Monta Ellis for the longest streak of 35-point games in the NBA this season. It’s also tied for Anthony’s longest streak of 35-point games in his career.