Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 3)

Series starts 1/3

Game 1: Monday, January 3rd
Game 2: Saturday, March 5th
Game 3: Friday, March 18th

Clippers 96

(29-36, 7-24 away)

Nuggets 115

(34-30, 21-10 home)

    Coverage: ALT

    7:00 PM ET, March 18, 2005

    Pepsi Center, Denver, CO

    1 2 3 4 T
    LAC 22 28 18 2896
    DEN 28 32 21 34115

    Top Performers

    LAC: C. Maggette 26 Pts, 7 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl

    Den: M. Camby 20 Pts, 17 Reb, 3 Ast, 3 Blk

    Camby's hustle the highlights

    DENVER (AP) -- The free throw bounced high off the rim, and Marcus Camby swooped in from above the key, grabbed the ball and jammed it. A little later, he was boxed out by two defenders, but somehow sneaked a hand in to tip the ball off the glass and in.

    Those hustle plays were two of the highlights from Camby's 20-point, 17-rebound performance Friday night in Denver's 115-96 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. They're also examples of why coach George Karl says he feels lost without the 7-foot center.

    "The only thing I'll say is, he's a lot better than I ever thought he was," Karl conceded. "If you look at the kid, he's playing at a top-10, top-15 level in all of basketball right now."

    Corey Maggette scored 26 points -- 22 in the first half before he tweaked his ankle -- to lead the Clippers, who played hard all the way but had their modest two-game winning streak snapped.

    Led by Camby's energetic effort and 21 points from Carmelo Anthony, the Nuggets won for the 10th time in 11 games and took a 2½-game lead over the Lakers and Timberwolves in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. They're 3½ games behind seventh-place Memphis.

    "We've got the eighth spot, now we'll try to go out and get the seventh," Anthony said. "All we've got to do is keep winning games and we'll see what happens."

    The Nuggets shot 57 percent -- three percent better than their win two nights earlier against Charlotte -- and finished with 31 assists, giving them 71 over the last two games.

    This was the third of a seven-game homestand, which concludes with games against the Bucks, Wizards, Lakers and Kings.

    "We've got to take advantage of our schedule," Karl said. "We'll scoreboard watch a little. But we've got a lot of home basketball games we've got to be very, very careful with."

    Andre Miller had eight points and 10 assists. Earl Boykins had 14 points and 10 assists. Anthony had four assists to go with his 21 points and Kenyon Martin returned from a knee injury and finished with 17 points and nine boards.

    The star, though, was Camby, who returned after missing two of the last three games with a sore hamstring.

    "He is huge for them, he is defending very well, and he's hitting jump shots offensively," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said.

    The jump shots were nice, but the two plays most representative of Camby's hustle were the follow-up dunk and the offensive stickback when he seemed clearly boxed out by a pair of L.A.'s big men.

    "I was trying to tip the ball to myself, but it went in," Camby said. "I guess I just got lucky there."

    That gave Denver a 71-64 lead midway through the third, and the Clippers kept it close for only a few minutes more.

    Midway through the fourth, Anthony hit a 3-pointer, then lobbed to Martin for an alley-oop to start an 11-5 run that gave the Nuggets a 17-point lead and brought 12th man Mark Pope off the bench.

    On Sunday, Martin and Camby will likely be joined by Nene, the power forward who has missed the last month with an injured knee. It will mark one of the rare times since he arrived that Karl will have his full assortment of big men.

    "We'll be complete," Martin said. "It was huge to have Marcus back. To have our lineup back, to know that no matter what lineup we have out on the court, you're not worried about beating teams -- that's a great luxury to have."

    Bobby Simmons and Lionel Chalmers had 15 points apiece for Los Angeles, which had won three of four coming into the game.

    "I'm very disappointed. This was a huge game," Maggette said.

    Game notes

    Former Denver coach and player Dan Issel made his first appearance at the Pepsi Center since 2002, the season he resigned after yelling a slur at an Hispanic fan. He was doing color commentary for the Nuggets telecast. ... LA's Marko Jaric missed his second straight game with a hip injury. ... LA's Elton Brand finished with six points, the first time in 39 games he's been held below double figures.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 96 115
    FGM-FGA 30-76 (.395) 44-77 (.571)
    3PM-3PA 6-12 (.500) 3-11 (.273)
    FTM-FTA 30-38 (.789) 24-37 (.649)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 11-38 10-48
    Assists 18 31
    Turnovers 16 13
    Steals 11 8
    Blocks 5 7
    Fast Break Points 19 30
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 29 (2/0) 26 (1/0)
    Largest Lead 0 23

    Top Performers

    Los Angeles
    Corey Maggette Maggette
    Points: 26
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0
    Marcus Camby Camby
    Points: 20
    Reb: 17
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 3