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Carmelo's 30 lift Denver to a big win

DENVER (AP) -- Carmelo Anthony called it the best game of his
career. Given the circumstances, it would be hard to argue with the
rookie.

Anthony scored 30 points, including six in overtime, and the
Denver Nuggets took a major step toward their first playoff
appearance in nine years with a 110-100 win Saturday night over the
Portland Trail Blazers.

With two games remaining, Denver took a one-game lead over
Portland and remained tied with Utah for the eighth and final
playoff spot in the Western Conference. Utah beat Houston 82-69
Saturday night. Denver owns the tiebreakers over both Utah and
Portland.

Anthony scored seven of Denver's last nine points in regulation,
capped by a 17-foot jumper that made it 94-94 with 3.7 seconds
left. He then hit two jumpers early in overtime and added a
fast-break slam dunk on a pass from Earl Boykins for a 104-95 lead
with 1:39 left.

Anthony scored 23 points after halftime.

"My teammates had the confidence to get me the ball down the
stretch and I answered," he said. "It's the best game I've ever
played."

Nuggets coach Jeff Bzdelik said Anthony "made a lot of big-time
shots. I've seen a lot of great clutch performances, and this rates
with the very best."

Denver point guard Andre Miller said Anthony carried the
Nuggets.

"The team was tired from back-to-back games. That was a great
effort from the young fellow," Miller said.

Referring to Anthony's shot at the end of regulation, Miller
said, "That was one of the biggest shots I've seen anybody hit."

The win assured Denver (42-38) of its first winning season since
1993-94.

Bzdelik isn't celebrating, yet.

"We have a big game Monday night," he said. The Nuggets play
at home against Sacramento.

Nene added 18 points for Denver. Marcus Camby had 14 points and
11 rebounds, and Boykins had 14 points.

Zach Randolph and Darius Miles each scored 23 points for the
Trail Blazers, with Randolph adding 11 rebounds. Derek Anderson had
21 points.

"Carmelo Anthony down the stretch pretty much took over the
game," Blazers coach Maurice Cheeks said.

Cheeks was upset that his point guard, Damon Stoudamire, wasn't
sent to the foul line after being fouled by Boykins with 2.3
seconds left in regulation. The officials ruled it a non-shooting
foul, and Stoudamire subsequently missed a long shot at the buzzer.

"If the game had ended with Anthony hitting a 3 or winning the
game in that fashion, fine," Cheeks said. "That's the way the
game is supposed to end. But not like that."

Stoudamire agreed.

"It was a shooting foul," he said. "If they fouled me on the
floor, how did I get a shot off?"

Boykins' layup gave Denver an 83-78 lead with 6:37 left in
regulation, but Portland chipped away at the deficit. Miles hit a
3-pointer to make it 87-87 with 3:12 remaining. Anderson's
3-pointer put Portland ahead 92-90, but Anthony countered with a
driving layup with 29.6 seconds left.

After Randolph hit a fadeaway jumper with 8.2 seconds remaining,
Anthony countered again to force overtime.

Anderson scored 12 points in the first quarter, including
3-for-3 from 3-point range, but the Trail Blazers trailed 28-25 at
the end of the period.

Anderson's 3-pointer and three-point play keyed a 10-2 run that
gave Portland a 22-17 lead, but the Nuggets outscored the Blazers
11-3 the rest of the period, including five points by Jon Barry.

Portland took advantage of Denver's 28 percent shooting in the
second quarter to seize a 48-46 halftime lead. The Blazers scored
the last six points of the period, including four by Anderson.

Anthony hit four shots in the first six minutes of the third
period to help Denver take a 60-56 lead. Chris Andersen's slam dunk
gave Denver a 69-67 lead heading into the final period.

Game notes
Nene bruised his right hand in the fourth quarter and was
to have X-rays on Sunday. ... The Trail Blazers are battling for
their 22nd consecutive playoff berth, the longest streak in the
NBA. ... Denver swept the season series with Portland for the first
time. ... The Nuggets have won six straight home games. ... A crowd
of 19,794 was the second-largest in Nuggets history, exceeded only
by the 19,812 against the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 25.