Anthony scores 24 as Nuggets hold off Clippers

DENVER (AP) -- The Denver Nuggets didn't need their fiery forward
to get back into their playoff series with the Los Angeles

Playing without Kenyon Martin, who was suspended for
insubordination, the Nuggets beat the Clippers 94-87 Thursday night
behind Carmelo Anthony's hard-fought 24 points.

The Nuggets will try to tie the series 2-2 Saturday night in
Denver, after which Martin might be allowed to return to the team.

Marcus Camby added 12 points and 13 rebounds for Denver, which
snapped a six-game losing streak since clinching its first division
title in 18 years on April 10 in Portland.

Corey Maggette scored 23 points to lead the Clippers, who got 20
points from Sam Cassell and 17 from Elton Brand.

The Clippers never controlled the flow of the game as they had
both times in Los Angeles, and a foul-filled third quarter kept
either team from getting into any kind of rhythm to pull away.

Tied at 70 heading into the fourth quarter, the Nuggets seized
momentum with a 10-3 run capped by Anthony's 19-foot jumper, and
Los Angeles never recovered.

The Clippers didn't go down quietly, though. Brand sank a jumper
and Cassell swished three free throws to keep it close.

Brand fouled out with 3:07 left, but Andre Miller missed both
free throws with Denver clinging to an 89-85 lead.

Anthony's layup with 1:51 left made it 91-87 and neither team
scored again until Earl Boykins sank two free throws with 24
seconds left.

The Nuggets suspended Martin after he had a blowup with coach
George Karl at halftime over his lack of playing time Monday night,
then sat out the second half of the Nuggets' 98-87 loss at the
Staples Center with a towel over his head.

Martin issued an apology through the team Wednesday after he was
suspended indefinitely, but Karl said he would miss at least two
games, maybe more.

Martin's latest run-in was met with a collective yawn this week
from many of his teammates who practiced and played without him for
much of the season as he struggled with tendinitis in his
surgically repaired left knee, missing 26 games. The Nuggets won 19
of those.

Camby said at the team's first practice without Martin that,
"Guys were here who are committed to practice, who are committed
to trying to change this series around."

"Having three, four power forwards on our team, being so deep
at that position, at this point it really doesn't matter," Anthony
said of Martin's forced hiatus.

Eduardo Najera got the start, with Francisco Elson and Reggie
Evans rotating in to help cover Brand and center Chris Kaman, who
played despite a sprained right ankle but managed just one basket.

Kaman, who scored 10 and 15 points in Los Angeles, didn't score
until 2:15 remaining and Brand shot just 6-of-15.

The third period featured 20 fouls, including a technical on
Cassell for yelling at lead official Dick Bavetta.

Cassell committed his fourth foul on a questionable call with
the Clippers trailing 56-54 with just under 6 minutes left in the
third period. He stormed off the court and went straight to his
seat, where he pulled on a black long-sleeve T-shirt to stay warm
while complaining about the call to his teammates.

Denver didn't capitalize on Cassell's absence, however.

Los Angeles, which shot 5-of-19 in the first quarter and fell
behind 24-13, scored the first 16 points of the second quarter,
fueled by Maggette's nine points. The Nuggets recovered and took a
45-42 lead into the locker room.

Game notes
The Nuggets sank 31 baskets after tying a franchise playoff
futility mark with just 27 field goals in Game 2. ... Denver missed
all 11 of its 3-pointers.<