DENVER (AP) -Remembering that their last meeting with the Los Angeles Clippers didn't go so well helped get the Denver Nuggets going in the rematch.
Chauncey Billups scored 13 of his 20 points in the third quarter to break open a tight game, and the Nuggets beat the Clippers 105-85 for their fifth straight victory. The winning streak matched a season-high and reversed the outcome of the teams' Nov. 20 meeting at the Staples Center, when Clippers upset the Nuggets 106-99.
``We knew that they beat us out there in a game that we felt we were supposed to win,' Billups said. ``This is the NBA and they've got good players on their team that can get going, but we knew coming into our building, we wanted to pay them back.'
``That was huge,' said Carmelo Anthony, who had his fourth double-double of the season with 28 points and 10 rebounds.
``We talked about it before the game,' added Anthony, who was selected as a starter for the All-Star game in fan balloting announced earlier Thursday. ``The way that the Clippers beat us on their home court, that was definitely in the back of our minds.'
Kenyon Martin added 13 points and 14 rebounds for Denver, which beat the Clippers for the sixth straight time at Pepsi Center. The Nuggets also won their sixth straight at home, where they are 19-3 - the second-best mark in the NBA.
Craig Smith scored 21 points to lead the Clippers, who fell to 0-12 on the road when scoring less than 100 points. Chris Kaman was the only other Clipper in double figures with 18 points.
The Clippers, opening a season-long eight-game road trip, played without guards Eric Gordon (sprained left big toe) and Sebastian Telfair (groin). They were sidelined because of injuries sustained during Wednesday's victory over Chicago at Staples Center.
``We needed to find someone to score, another scorer and another threat that stretches the defense,' said Clippers guard Baron Davis. ``It seems like as a team, whenever we are ready to make a push, somebody gets hurt.'
Despite being short-handed, the Clippers took a 48-47 halftime lead, scoring six of the last seven points in the final 1:07 of the second quarter, capped by Marcus Camby's goal-tended basket.
But Denver grabbed the momentum from there, going in front to stay with a 15-4 flurry to begin the third quarter. Billups touched off the burst by hitting a pair of free throws and the first of his three 3-pointers in the period.
``We just talked about our energy level (at halftime),' Billups said. ``We had to come out and find it somehow. We couldn't use playing the night before and being in an overtime game as an excuse. We had to make a conscious effort to be aggressive, not necessarily even scoring, but just being aggressive trying to make plays and turn the tide.'
That they did, outscoring the Clippers 34-17 in the third to wrest control of the game.
``We let them get away in the third quarter,' Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. ``We had numbers down the floor and Billups walked into some 3s. That's his shot. When he can dribble into a 3-point shot he is very effective.
The Clippers pulled to 88-74 midway through the fourth quarter, but Ty Lawson then hit a pair of 3-pointers to rebuild the Nuggets' hefty advantage.
NOTES: Camby, who spent six seasons with the Denver Nuggets from 2002-2008, received a round of applause from the crowd when he was introduced as part of the Clippers' starting lineup. ... Both the Clippers and Nuggets played the second of a back-to-back that included wins on the front end for each of the teams. ... The Nuggets also won five in a row from Oct. 28-Nov. 4. ... Telfair did not accompany the team to Denver and was scheduled to see a specialist on Friday for further evaluation of the groin injury. Gordon (toe) was listed as ``day to day,' but could be available as soon as Sunday, when the Clippers play at Washington, according to Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy.
The Associated Press News Service
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