Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 2)

Series starts 1/4

Game 1: Wednesday, January 4th
Game 2: Wednesday, March 15th

Nuggets 101

(37-29, 16-17 away)

Pacers 99

(32-30, 19-11 home)

Coverage: FSMW

7:00 PM ET, March 15, 2006

Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN

1 2 3 4 T
DEN 32 29 21 19101
IND 21 26 27 2599

Top Performers

Den: A. Miller 21 Pts, 6 Reb, 9 Ast, 3 Stl

Ind: J. Foster 13 Pts, 14 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 Blk

Anthony's jumper leads Nuggets past Pacers

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- George Karl figured there was only one option when the Denver Nuggets needed a last-second shot Wednesday night -- Carmelo Anthony.

With Anthony playing the way he has in March, why consider anyone else?

So Karl did the obvious thing after calling timeout with 18.6 seconds left. He called for Anthony to isolate himself on the right side and back away from a defender. Anthony executed the play perfectly, hitting an 18-foot fadeaway with 2.2 seconds left to give the Nuggets a 101-99 victory at Indiana.

"He's a special guy, he was almost perfect tonight," Karl said. "If he misses, we probably get the tip-in anyway."

For Karl, there wasn't even a second thought.

Although Andre Miller was effective, scoring 21 points and handing out nine assists, and Marcus Camby and Ruben Patterson both scored in double figures, Anthony has simply been too good lately.

He entered the game averaging more than 29 points and connecting on more than 58 percent of his shots in March, and delivered in a similar fashion Wednesday.

He shot 12-of-25, finished with 31 points -- his third straight game topping 30 -- and was flawless on the final play as Denver (37-29) improved to 4-1 on its seven-game road trip.

"All I needed was a little bit of space," Anthony said. "I was taking the jumper. They gave me a little space and I took the shot."

The Pacers (32-30) struggled again in the first half, falling into a deep deficit in the game's opening 6 minutes. They spent the rest of the night trying to play catch up and have lost four of six.

Indiana did manage to erase a 16-point third-quarter deficit and had a chance to win when Peja Stojakovic lined up a 3-pointer at the buzzer. But the ball rimmed out.

Stojakovic led the Pacers with 22 points, while Stephen Jackson finished with 21 despite shooting just 6-of-21 from the field.

What upset coach Rick Carlisle was another poor start.

"The first half was disappointing again and we have to solve that," Carlisle said. "This is a very important time for us if we're going to be a team that makes the playoffs."

Both teams were short-handed.

Pacers forward Scot Pollard sat out with a bothersome foot, and Carlisle tried to improvise by starting Austin Croshere. It was Croshere's first appearance since sustaining a concussion on Jan. 31. He logged less than 5 minutes.

"In all fairness to Austin, it was probably a mistake to put him out there," Carlisle said.

Karl had a similar issues. Before the game, the Nuggets announced that Kenyon Martin would sit out because of tendinitis in his left knee, and Camby needed X-rays on his sore left hand.

Camby played, Martin did not. Strangely, the Nuggets are now 27-11 when either Martin or Camby don't play.

There was worse news afterward. Backup point guard Earl Boykins apparently banged his left hand during the fourth quarter, an injury that was later diagnosed as a fracture. He's expected to return to Denver on Thursday for further evaluation, but Karl said it's likely he could miss up to five weeks.

"It's bad," Karl said.

Still, the injuries could not tarnish another solid shooting night from Denver -- or Anthony.

The Nuggets got started quickly, building a 21-10 lead midway through the first quarter.

The Pacers got as close as 40-35 in the first half and trailed 61-47 at halftime after the Nuggets, who shot 58 percent in the first two quarters, closed the half on a 16-8 run.

The Pacers finally got going late in the third quarter, rallying from a 16-point deficit with a 7-1 run to close out the quarter. They opened the fourth with three straight points to make it 82-77.

Jackson made two free throws with 3:01 left to get the Pacers within 95-93, and when Stojakovic and Anthony Johnson hit back-to-back 3-pointers, Indiana had finally tied the score at 99 with 1:10 left.

"I thought in the second half, we did a good job of sticking with what we had to do to give ourselves a chance," Carlisle said. "Our undoing is not playing 48 minutes at that level."

And, of course, Anthony.

Both teams had chances to take the lead in the last minute, but Anthony missed a layup and Jackson a long jumper that gave Denver the ball with 25 seconds left.

Karl then called timeout to set up a play for Anthony, who delivered with usual clutch shot.

"I couldn't make a layup in this place, but I hit that shot," Anthony said. They were all banging me a little bit. Bang me all you want, I'm going to make the shot when it counts."

Game notes

Gene Simmons, of the rock group KISS, attended the game after joining Anthony earlier in the day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Anthony is now a co-owner with Ron Hemelgarn's Indy Racing League team. ... Denver improved to 16-17 on the road this season and has now won two straight at Conseco Fieldhouse after losing nine straight there. ... The Pacers shot 23.5 percent from 3-point range, the seventh time in nine games they've been worse than 31 percent. ... David Harrison had one block, giving him 100 in his career.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 101 99
FGM-FGA 40-78 (.513) 37-86 (.430)
3PM-3PA 1-3 (.333) 4-17 (.235)
FTM-FTA 20-27 (.741) 21-33 (.636)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 9-42 15-45
Assists 18 20
Turnovers 15 10
Steals 5 10
Blocks 7 5
Fast Break Points 10 14
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 24 (3/0) 20 (3/0)
Largest Lead 16 0

Top Performers

Andre Miller Miller
Points: 21
Reb: 6
Ast: 9
Stl: 3
Blk: 0
Jeff Foster Foster
Points: 13
Reb: 14
Ast: 2
Stl: 1
Blk: 2