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Nuggets storm back from 19 down

3/26/2002

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Denver Nuggets decided to leave their first
three terrible quarters behind. They ended up leaving the
struggling New York Knicks behind, too.

Voshon Lenard scored 16 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter
and hit the winning shot as the Denver Nuggets beat the New York
Knicks 84-83 Monday night.

Juwan Howard added 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Nuggets,
who trailed by as many as 13 points in the second half.

"This is our game, guys," Howard said before the fourth
quarter. "We've played terrible for three quarters, and we're only
down nine. This is our game."

It was, much to the familiar dismay of the Knicks. Latrell
Sprewell scored 33 points for the Knicks, who led by as many as 19
in the first half. Kurt Thomas added 15 points and 14 rebounds for
the Knicks, who have lost 15 games when leading by double digits
this year.

"It's like the same old story again," Sprewell said. "We have
found ways to beat ourselves down the stretch and when we needed to
make big shots, we have fallen a little short."

The Knicks found several ways to do that Monday, from missing
free throws to missing short open jump shots, and Denver's
double-teaming of Sprewell didn't help that.

After Shandon Anderson made only one of two free throws to give
the Knicks an 83-81 lead with 50.1 seconds left, Lenard hit a
3-pointer from the corner over Clarence Weatherspoon, who left
Lenard open several times down the stretch.

With Sprewell covered, Mark Jackson took two shots at the other
end, but was short on both and committed a foul on the rebound.

Howard missed an open driving layup after Denver took two
timeouts, giving the Knicks the ball with 3.7 remaining. Sprewell
drove and dished to Weatherspoon, who missed an open jumper as the
horn sounded.

"If Sprewell didn't have a clear look himself, we had several
options off of that," Knicks coach Don Chaney said. "Sprewell
made the right play. You can't ask for any better shot than that."

The Nuggets closed the third quarter with an air of confidence,
down nine points but certain they could steal the game from the
Knicks. They started the fourth quarter with a quick run, as Kenny
Satterfield hit a jumper and Travis Knight fouled Donnell Harvey,
who hit a free throw after throwing down a baseline dunk to cut the
lead to 68-64.

"In the first half, Sprewell was making everything he put up,"
Denver coach Mike Evans said. "So you have to make someone else
beat you. That's what we did."

Sprewell replaced Lavar Postell after an air ball, and his
jumper with 7:37 left lifted the Knicks lead to a 74-68 lead. But
Lenard hit a 3-pointer.

"I was in a rhythm, man," Lenard said. "If I get in a rhythm,
I am pretty hard to stop, especially when you got guys like George
(McCloud) finding people and Juwan setting good picks."

Lenard kept in that rhythm, and it threw the Knicks off.

Sprewell found Travis Knight on the baseline for a dunk, and
drove for a hanging layup to put the Knicks up 78-71.

Lenard kept getting open, eluding Anderson and Weatherspoon, and
answered with a 3-pointer. He then hit another that bounced high
off the rim and came back down to cut the lead to 80-77.

Lenard's jumper with 2:25 left lifted Denver within 80-79.

Denver started its comeback in the third, cutting the Knicks
lead to eight points early, but that was as close as it could get.
Ryan Bowen had a slashing layup and a putback in the final minute
to cut New York's lead to 68-59.

"We didn't shoot the basketball well, we had a lot of
turnovers, but we were still only down by nine points," said
Howard, who was grinning as he greeted his teammates at the end of
the third quarter. "I just felt like if we just stepped it up for
12 minutes, we could win this ballgame.

"Of course, it's good having a guy like Voshon making 3s.
That's the ballgame."

Game notes
The Nuggets used their 28th different lineup of the season.
Eighteen players have started games for Denver this season. ...
Allan Houston missed his first game of the season with a sprained
left ankle. Anderson started in his place, his first start of the
season.