Ailing coach is back on the bench after missing four games The Denver Nuggets welcomed George Karl back to the bench after cancer treatment with a 97-87 win over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday. With Karl resuming his coaching duties after a four-game absence because of neck and throat cancer, Carmelo Anthony scored 29 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as the Nuggets (46-22) won their seventh game in eight.
"He told us before the game he wasn't going to do too much," Anthony said. "It's just good to have him on the sidelines with us. Even though he can't say much the message is getting to us." Denver held a slender two-point lead heading into the fourth quarter but outscored their opponents 32-24 the rest of the way, with the reserve JR Smith bagging 13 of his 17 in the last 12 minutes. Andray Blatche, the Washington forward, had 23 points and eight rebounds but hurt his ankle in the fourth quarter and had to leave the game.
The Wizards (21-45) had a 45-39 lead at half-time before fading and losing their season-high ninth game in a row. The win moved Denver into sole possession of second place in the Western Conference, four games behind the Los Angeles Lakers. "[Karl] said before the game, wins are the best treatment for him," said Joey Graham, the Nuggets' forward. "Hopefully we can keep this team rolling and win a championship for him and he'll be completely healed. That's the plan."
In other NBA action, LeBron James had 29 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists in his fourth triple-double of the season, lifting the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 113-101 victory over the Detroit Pistons. James was delighted with his performance and said: "That means you're doing everything your team needs to win basketball games. That is one of the best things you can have as an individual."
Cleveland have won four in a row and lost only one of their last 11 games, improving to an NBA-best 53-15 win-loss record. Manu Ginobili scored 22 points and George Hill 16 as the in-form San Antonio Spurs beat the Miami Heat 88-76 after frittering away most of a 25-point, third-quarter lead. Richard Jefferson added 15 points and Tim Duncan had 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Spurs, who have won eight of their last nine. * With agencies