Nuggets hold off Celtics

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DENVER, February 22 – JR Smith scored 16 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter Sunday as Denver blew a big lead but still held off the Boston Celtics 114-105 in a National Basketball Association game.Chauncey Billups had 26 points and Carmelo Anthony had 23 for the Nuggets, who avoided back-to-back defeats with the victory over the league’s top road team.

Anthony surpassed 12,000 career points on his first basket, an 18-foot jump shot less than four minutes into the game.

He now has 12,022 points and is the third-leading scorer in club history.

Ray Allen had 25 points and Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Marquis Daniels added 15 points apiece for Boston, who lost for the first time in their last four road games.

The Celtics are still a league-leading 20-10 away from home.

Boston trailed by 20 points late in the first quarter had erased the deficit to tie the game in the third.

Smith nailed four three-pointers in the fourth as the Nuggets held on for the victory.

Denver improved to 4-0 against the top three Eastern Conference teams. They have beaten Cleveland twice and Orlando and Boston once each so far this campaign.

"We’re still inconsistent at times," said Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin.

"If we can lock in and just do the stuff we can do and learn from the mistakes we make, that can go a long way."

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