DENVER (AP) – Carmelo Anthony made a jumper as time expired and the Denver Nuggets, after blowing a 19-point, third-quarter lead, came back to beat the Chicago Bulls 98-97 on Friday night.
Anthony finished with 22 points, including his 14th career game-winner. Nene added 18 points and Ty Lawson had 17.
C.J. Watson led the Bulls with 33 points and Luol Deng had 24. Joakim Noah added 17 points and 16 rebounds.
Both teams played without their starting point guards. Chicago’s Derrick Rose had a sore neck, apparently from having slept on it wrong the night before. Denver’s Chauncey Billups missed a second consecutive game since spraining his right wrist and breaking his nose in last Saturday’s game against New Jersey.
Trailing throughout the game, the Bulls tied it at 82 on a 19-foot jumper by Watson. Kyle Korver drained a 3-pointer with 6:05 remaining to give Chicago its first lead, 85-82.
With Chicago leading 91-88, the Nuggets went back in front 94-91 with 2:10 left on successive driving layups by J.R. Smith, Anthony and Ty Lawson.
But Watson answered with three consecutive baskets for the Bulls, banking in a go-ahead jumper and driving in for a twisting layup with 30 seconds remaining to make it 97-94.
After Anthony made a pair of free throws to get the Nuggets within one, newly signed Bulls guard John Lucas III was fouled with 12.9 seconds remaining and missed both free throws.
Anthony drove the lane and forced up a shot in traffic that missed, but the ball rolled out of bounds off the Bulls and the Nuggets had another chance with 4 seconds remaining. This time, Anthony pulled up for a 23-foot jumper and buried it for the victory, the Nuggets’ fifth straight at home.
Up by 10 at the half, the Nuggets scored 11 of the first 13 points in the third quarter, including two 3-pointers by Lawson, to go in front 59-40 with 9:32 left in the period.
But they couldn’t shake the Bulls, who fought back to within a point of the Nuggets four separate times in the final 1:56 of the third, the last time when Korver made a pair of free throws. But Anthony then hit a 20-foot jumper and the Nuggets took a 76-73 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Bulls, who went to double-overtime Wednesday before pulling out a win at Phoenix, got off to a sluggish start. The Nuggets opened up a 17-point, first-quarter lead behind Nene, who had 10 points in the period on 5-of-5 shooting.
Chicago pulled to 25-20 by the end of the first on Watson’s driving layup before the Nuggets rebuilt their advantage to 48-38 at halftime.
NOTES: The Bulls announced the signing of Lucas before the game, giving them 14 players on their roster. … A slam dunk by Noah late in the second quarter initially was determined to have beaten the shot clock but video review showed it had not and it was nullified. … Billups has missed only 12 games since coming to the Nuggets in a trade with Detroit on Nov. 3, 2008. … Arron Afflalo has connected for multiple 3-pointers six times.
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