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Nuggets retain second place

J.R. Smith tied a career-high best with eight 3-pointers to score 28 as the Denver Nuggets secured a 114-104 victory over the Utah Jazz on Thursday.

The Nuggets claimed their fifth straight win and 10th in the last 11 games to stretch a one-game advantage over the San Antonio Spurs and hold on to the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference with six games remaining.

"There's a sense of urgency now that we're in second," Denver forward Chris Andersen told reporters after recording seven points, 10 rebounds and eight blocks.

"We're not trying to get below (second) and we have to secure that going into the last six games."

Carmelo Anthony added 23 points and nine rebounds to drop the Jazz, who have lost two straight games and now lead the No. 7 seeds in the West by just one.

C.J. Miles led six Utah players in double figures scoring with 19 points but the Jazz struggled to just 36 percent shooting from the field. Deron Williams had 18 points and 10 assists while Mehmet Okur tallied 14 points and 15 rebounds in the defeat.

Utah used a strong effort on the boards to take an early advantage but fell behind in the second quarter when Smith caught fire.

Smith made four triples and notched 15 points to spur the Nuggets to a 16-3 run that gave them a 48-38 lead with 4:01 left in the second quarter.

"It's been a while since I shot it like that - probably last year in Chicago," Smith said. "We did a good getting our hands on loose balls because (they were) doing a good job on the offensive boards."

The Nuggets have enjoyed one of their best seasons in franchise history since trading for point guard Chauncey Billups back in November, but received a setback when forward Kenyon Martin was injured in the third quarter and did not return.

Martin, who has recently struggled with a bad back, experienced pain in his ribs before leaving the game.

"Hopefully (Martin) is okay, but if not I've been know to fill in for him," Andersen said. "Hopefully he comes back soon."

In Washington, Gilbert Arenas and the Wizards recovered after blowing a 14-point second-half lead to end the franchise-record 13-game winning streak of LeBron James and Cleveland Cavaliers with a 109-101 victory.

Arenas had with 11 points on 3-for-11 shooting and 10 assists and six rebounds in 33 minutes.

Brendan Haywood, making his first start of the season, had 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Wizards.


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