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Nuggets shoot 36 percent in victory

3/25/2004

DENVER (AP) -- Denver's reserves kept the Nuggets within reach of
the final Western Conference playoff spot.

Carmelo Anthony had 25 points and a key steal in the closing
seconds, and backup Earl Boykins added 21 points to lift the
Nuggets to a 101-92 victory Wednesday night over the Minnesota
Timberwolves.

Denver played without center Marcus Camby (groin) and forward
Ryan Bowen (back strain), then lost shooting guard Voshon Lenard to
bruised ribs in the second quarter.

No matter. Boykins picked up the slack when Lenard went down and
forward Chris Andersen played with his usual scrappiness after
missing six games with a knee injury. Jon Barry and Rodney White
added 10 points each, giving the Nuggets a season-high 48 from the
reserves.

"The bench came back and gave us a lot of energy," said
Anthony, who had six rebounds. "Chris came off the IR and gave us
a lot of energy along with Barry and Boykins. They were a big
help."

Denver shot just 30 percent in a 21-point loss to Minnesota on
Sunday, and wasn't much better this time. The Nuggets spent a good
portion of the game standing around on offense and shot just 36
percent.

Denver made up for it by pushing the pace at every opportunity
and finishing with just six turnovers -- none in the first half. The
Nuggets had a 30-9 advantage in fast-break points to move a
half-game ahead of Utah, which lost to Seattle 84-77.

"I thought we played desperately today," Nuggets coach Jeff
Bzdelik said. "That's how we have to play. We scored 101 points
and only shot 37 (36.8) percent. We had a good pace to the game."

But for all of Denver's work, the Nuggets couldn't shake
Minnesota until the closing seconds.

The Timberwolves shot 46 percent to keep Denver's lead under
double figures, then closed to 95-92 on Kevin Garnett's 3-pointer
with 23 seconds left. They just couldn't get any closer.

Andre Miller followed Garnett's 3 with two free throws to put
Denver up 97-92, then Anthony stole an inbounds pass and called
timeout before falling out of bounds with 14 seconds left.

"We turned it over too much and gave them a lot of transition
points," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said after watching team
turn it over 21 times. "Defensively, when a team shoots 36 percent
against you, you should have the opportunity to win the game. We
didn't take care of the ball."

Garnett finished with 24 points and 14 rebounds, but was clearly
frustrated by the Nuggets' physical play. Denver fronted him in the
post with plenty of help on the weakside, then knocked him around
when he did get the ball.

Garnett was called for a technical foul in the second quarter
for throwing an elbow at Anthony, and had a few words for the
officials after being hit in the head by Michael Doleac a few
minutes later.

"I think for the most part they got the majority of the
calls," said Garnett, who took just 12 shots. "We just have to
play through it. That took us out of our rhythm a little bit. You
can't use it as an excuse."

Andersen was a big part of the frustration.

Activated from the injured list before the game, he banged
Garnett around in the post and scrambled around to keep balls alive
and grab offensive rebounds.

He finished with nine rebounds -- four on offense -- and plenty of
floor burns.

"I was out for six games and all I did was build up energy,"
Andersen said.

The diminutive Boykins always seems to have energy.

Denver had to go to a small lineup after Lenard's injury, but
Boykins used his quickness to get open for shots and hound
Minnesota's point guards.

He shot 8-for-15, including a halfcourt heave to beat the shot
clock late in the first quarter and a scoop shot that put the
Nuggets up 93-85 with 2{ minutes left in the game.

The 5-foot-5 Boykins also created plenty of problems for Sam
Cassell. The Timberwolves' point guard was called for a technical
in the first quarter and had just six points on 3-of-10 shooting
with seven turnovers before fouling out with four minutes left.

"Earl Boykins is a momentum shifter. He's my sixth man of the
year," Garnett said. "He comes in and changes the game."

Anthony was his usual self.

Trenton Hassell held him to 6-of-22 shooting on Sunday, but the
rookie got the better end of the deal this time.

Anthony opened with a turnaround over Hassell, knocked down a
long jumper after losing Hassell with an up-fake, then had a
three-point play on a two-handed reverse dunk after scooping up a
loose ball.

Anthony finished the first half with 17 points on 6-of-11
shooting.

Game notes
Cassell is 5-for-21 the past two games. ... Lenard was
injured when he landed on Cassell after biting on an up-fake. ...
Anthony passed 1,500 points for the season (1,503). ... Minnesota
had won eight straight over Denver, including the first three this
season.