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Billups hot as Nuggets hold on to foil Hawks

CHAUNCEY Billups scored a season-high 33 points to help the Denver Nuggets withstand a late fightback and defeat the Atlanta Hawks 110-109 on Wednesday.

Atlanta, which outscored Denver 31-18 in the final quarter, trailed 102-110 with 1:39 remaining before Joe Johnson scored five straight points and Al Horford made a jump shot to pull within a point with 33 seconds to go.

Hawks guard Ronald Murray, however, missed a 14-footer at the buzzer, which would have won it for the visitors.

Carmelo Anthony added 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Northwest Division-leading Nuggets (38-20), who snapped a three-game losing streak.

"I'm happy we won but I'm disappointed in how we won," Billups said. "I thought, when they got aggressive, we got passive. That's not going to beat the good teams."

In other National Basketball Association games, it was: Spurs 99, Trail Blazers 84; Pacers 104, Grizzlies 99; 76ers 106, Wizards 98; Nets 111, Bulls 99; Jazz 120, Timberwolves 103; Hornets 90, Pistons 87; Mavericks 116, Bucks 96; Bobcats 98, Kings 91; Magic 114, Knicks 109; and Clippers 93, Celtics 91.

In Denver, Colorado, Marvin Williams scored 31 points and Johnson chipped in with 26 for the Hawks, who lost their third successive game.

Denver rebounded from a lopsided 76-114 loss to the defending champions Boston Celtics on Monday, the team's second-worst home loss ever.

On Wednesday, Billups made strong start, tallying 12 points in the second quarter as the Nuggets took a 60-53 halftime advantage.

Playing without leading rebounder Nene Hilario, who suffered a knee bruise on Sunday against Milwaukee, the Nuggets stretched the lead in the third quarter behind strong performances from their bench. Reserve J.R. Smith finished with 14 points, while Chris Anderson had 12 rebounds and five blocks.

The Hawks were playing without starters Josh Smith, who missed the game for personal reasons, and Mike Bibby, who has flu. Atlanta is currently holding on to the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference despite recent struggles on the road.

"We're going to be shorthanded one way or the other but what can you do," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said.

"I'm looking at our road games of late and then these (six) on this trip and none of it is guaranteed. Not the way we've been playing. We had three road games before this trip and not one of them was guaranteed."


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