DENVER Kenyon Martin scored a season-high 30 points and the Denver Nuggets surged past the Golden State Warriors in the wild Western Conference playoff race with a 119-112 win Saturday night.
Martin also pulled down 11 rebounds, and J.R. Smith added 20 points off the bench, helping the Nuggets stave off a furious rally by the Warriors in the closing minutes.
The Nuggets moved a-half game ahead of the Warriors for the eighth and final playoff spot and pulled with a-half game of sliding Dallas for seventh place. The Mavericks visit the Warriors tonight.
Denver also won the all-important tiebreaker with the Warriors by virtue of its win Saturday night and a better conference record.
Carmelo Anthony scored 25 for Denver on 11-of-16 shooting, but his fellow All-Star starter, Allen Iverson, went 4-for-20 from the field for 14 points.
Martin made sure A.I.'s mini-slump didn't matter.
Martin's biggest bucket was a buzzer beater from the left corner that made it 115-110 with 1:11 remaining, and Baron Davis led the Warriors with 28 points, but misfired twice on 3-pointers in the final minute. Stephen Jackson added 25 points for Golden State, Monta Ellis had 22 and Andris Biedrins 17.
Denver won its fifth straight and improved to 30-7 at home while handing the Warriors their fifth loss in nine games.
Eduardo Najera's 3-pointer gave Denver a 108-96 lead with 6 1/2 minutes left but the Warriors pulled to 109-106 on a breakaway slam dunk by Ellis with 3:13 left, setting the stage for a frenetic finish.
After frittering away an early 11-point lead, the Nuggets scored the last five points of the third quarter and the first 10 of the fourth, capped by Smith's breakaway glide to the basket for a 98-86 lead.
Ellis scored three straight baskets to cap an 11-2 run that tied it at 76, and Kelenna Azubuike's follow-up basket with 5:05 left in the third quarter gave the Warriors their first lead since the opening minutes at 80-78.
Azubuike's basket made it 86-83, and the Warriors looked in complete control, but they started taking silly shots from all over and they wouldn't score again for 6 minutes.
By then, the Nuggets had reeled off their 15-0 run.
Martin surpassed his 12.1-point scoring average with a 19-point first half.
Jackson scored eight points in the Warriors' 10-3 run to close the first half that brought Golden State to 65-61 at the break.
PISTONS 85, CAVALIERS 71: At Auburn Hills, Mich., Richard Hamilton returned to the lineup and scored 14 points, leading Detroit over Cleveland.
LeBron James had a lackluster night with 13 points on 4-of-17 shooting with five assists and five turnovers.
Chauncey Billups and reserve Jason Maxiell each scored 13 while Tayshaun Prince and Antonio McDyess had 12 points apiece for the Pistons, who have won three of four.
SUNS 110, NETS 104: At East Rutherford, N.J., Amare Stoudemire had 33 points and 15 rebounds and Phoenix moved into a first-place tie with the Los Angeles Lakers in the Pacific Division.
Leandro Barbosa added 21 points, Shaquille O'Neal had 17 points and seven rebounds and Steve Nash chipped in with 10 points and 11 assists as the Suns won for the ninth time in 11 games.
Vince Carter had 30 points to lead the Nets.
BULLS 114, BUCKS 111: At Chicago, rookie Joakim Noah scored a season-high 18 points and had 15 rebounds to help Chicago hold on after nearly squandering a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter.
Larry Hughes scored 19 points and Luol Deng added 16 to help the Bulls win for just the fourth time in 12 games. Michael Redd scored 33 points to lead the Bucks, who lost for the 12 time in 14 games in March. Charlie Villanueva scored 15 of this 26 points in the third quarter for Milwaukee.
BOBCATS 93, TRAIL BLAZERS 85: At Portland, Ore., Emeka Okafor scored 21 points and Jason Richardson added 20 for Charlotte in a victory over the Trail Blazers.
Travis Outlaw scored 26 points to lead Portland, and LaMarcus Aldridge had 21 points and 13 rebounds for his team-leading 15th double-double of the season.
CLIPPERS 110, GRIZZLIES 97: At Los Angeles, rookie Al Thornton scored 20 of his career-high 39 points in the fourth quarter, Corey Maggette added 26, and the Clippers snapped a season-worst 10-game losing streak.