DENVER (AP) – Carmelo Anthony scored 26 points, J.R. Smith had 21 and the Denver Nuggets held off the Los Angeles Clippers 105-103 Friday night to win their sixth straight and give coach George Karl his 998th career win.
Eric Gordon had 24 points and rookie Blake Griffin had 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Clippers.
Karl, seventh on the career wins list and fourth among active coaches, said before the game he hopes to sign an extension with the Nuggets soon. His deal expires at the end of the season and he is in negotiations with the team for an extension.
“The further you get into the season, the contract situation is going to be discussed,” he said. “Hopefully we can keep winning and keep that off the discussion plate. My concern the last six months has been on me and my health and it still is. I knew if I could get healthy and stay healthy I could coach a few more years and that’s probably what I want to do. I’d love it to be in Denver and I’m hoping this will work out quickly.”
The Clippers threatened to spoil Karl’s positive mood.
It was a one-point game late in the third quarter when Ty Lawson took charge. His 63-foot heave at the end of the third quarter gave Denver an 81-77 lea. Later, he had a steal and a layup and then hit another 3-pointer to give Denver an 89-80 lead.
The Clippers scored the next eight points, including two 3-pointers by Brian Cook. Smith’s three-point play and Arron Afflalo’s layup made it 94-88 with 5:28 left.
The Nuggets led 103-93 when two driving dunks by Gordon sparked an 8-1 Clippers run. They had a chance to tie it but Cook missed a 3-pointer from the corner with 30 seconds remaining.
Denver closed it out from the line, where they hit 45 of 59 for the game. The Clippers were 20 for 29 from the foul line.
The Nuggets shot just 31 percent in the first half but led 49-48 at the break on the strength of their foul shooting. They made only 10 field goals in the first two quarters — five of them 3-pointers — while the Clippers hit 20 shots, but the Nuggets held a 24-8 advantage from the free-throw line.
Notes: Clippers C Chris Kaman returned to the lineup after missing 11 games with a sprained left ankle. He had eight points and six rebounds off the bench. … Andersen left the game in the fourth with a lower back bruise and did not return.
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