OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Chauncey Billups scored 31 points and Carmelo Anthony added 24 as the Denver Nuggets charged back from a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 98-94 on Wednesday night.
The Nuggets held Oklahoma City without a basket for the final 9 minutes while finishing the game on a 22-5 run to pick up a crucial road win in their chase for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
Billups scored 22 points in the second half, including two free throws that put Denver ahead 96-94 with 52.7 seconds left.
Kevin Durant scored 33 points but missed a shot in the lane that would've tied the score in the final 10 seconds. Anthony followed that with two free throws to clinch it with 6.8 seconds left.
It was a chance for redemption for Durant on the same day the NBA admitted officials failed to call a foul that could've given him a chance for game-winning free throws a night earlier in a loss at Utah.
Durant missed his final six shots while breaking from his usual routine and playing all 24 minutes in the second half despite a late return after the previous night's overtime game. Russell Westbrook added 21 points but also committed seven turnovers.
It was the latest in a series of heartbreaking defeats Denver has handed the Thunder on their home court at the Ford Center, this time in front of the season's largest crowd of 18,332.
Anthony had hit a pair of game-winners in the final 6 seconds of wins at Oklahoma City last season but missed Denver's first visit to the Ford Center this season with an injury. For a brief time, it appeared he wouldn't be around for what ended up being a thrilling finish.
Anthony left the game briefly in the final minute of the third quarter after an odd sequence in which officials allowed play to resume after a dead ball even though Anthony was splayed out on his back. Official Scott Wall appeared to ask whether Denver wanted to call a timeout and then allowed Oklahoma City to inbound the ball.
Anthony rammed head first into Durant's chest as he tried to make a move at the right elbow and was called for traveling as the players fell to the floor. He grasped his head with both hands and remained on the floor as the Thunder went down for an empty possession and then as Denver started its offense around him. Play was finally stopped and trainers attended to him.
Anthony walked under his own power to the locker room and returned to the bench before the fourth quarter began. He was greeted by a chorus of boos when he checked in 47 seconds into the final period and booed more lightly when he touched the ball in the minutes that followed.
The Thunder were up as much as 89-76 in the fourth before Billups sparked a 10-0 run by Denver with a pair of free throws and a 3-pointer. The Nuggets finally pulled even at 94 when Nene followed Anthony's bank shot with a right-handed jam over Durant with 1:32 remaining.
Oklahoma City missed its final 13 shots.
NOTES: Even though coach George Karl hasn't been with the Nuggets while undergoing chemotherapy treatments, Thunder coach Scott Brooks said he thinks "they still play the way that he wants that team to play." Brooks was a former assistant for Karl in Denver. "He's a fighter. He's as tough and as strong of a man mentally as you're going to find," Brooks said. "That's one of the things that I learned while I was with him a couple years in Denver. You have to coach your team no matter what are the surrounding circumstances." ... Oklahoma City assigned F D.J. White to the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA Developmental League for the third time this season.