PORTLAND, Ore. - It took nearly a half before the Denver Nuggets decided to play with urgency. Trailing nearly the entire game, the Nuggets pulled together in the fourth quarter to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 97-94 on Wednesday night. Carmelo Anthony had 26 points and nine rebounds and Andre Miller added 21 points — 17 in the fourth quarter — as Denver won its seventh straight game and improved to 11-2 in 2006. “It was one of those loose games where we thought that because our record was good we were going to win the game,” coach George Karl said. “In the second half we finally showed some spunk.” The Trail Blazers, who lost their second straight game at home, led by as many as 12 points in the second half. Greg Buckner’s 3-pointer with 1:13 remaining put the Nuggets up 97-94 for their biggest lead of the game. The Blazers inbounded the ball with 3.7 seconds left and Steve Blake was fouled by Kenyon Martin. With 1.6 seconds on the clock, Blake inbounded the ball again, and Travis Outlaw missed an off-balance 3-point shot at the buzzer. “We just wanted to keep pushing be- cause we knew they were a team that would let you back in the game if we pushed through it,” Miller said. Martin scored 21 points for the Nuggets, who have won four straight games against Portland. “I don’t believe in luck. It was will,” Anthony said. “The last five minutes we really buckled down.” Zach Randolph had 18 points and nine rebounds for the Trail Blazers and Theo Ratliff had 11 points and 12 rebounds. Portland coach Nate McMillan’s take on the final quarter? “No defense,” he said. The Trail Blazers were coming off a 95-89 loss to Dallas on Sunday that snapped their first four-game winning streak since the 2003-04 season. “I am encouraged that we’ve been in control in two games against good teams,” McMillan said. “Now we have to figure out how to win those games.” Portland led 85-74 when the Nuggets rallied. Martin’s jump shot with 4:58 left cut the deficit to 85-84 and Miller made two free throws to give Denver its first lead at 90-89. “We kind of figured out their defense and Andre kept driving it to the rim,” Karl said. “I’m not sure if they got fooled or tricked, but we got a lot of layups off it.” NEXT Denver (25-19) vs. L.A. Clippers (23-16), 7 p.m. Friday, ALT/ESPN, 1300/950 AM
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