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01/30/2014 12:51 AM EST
Bobcats beat Nuggets behind Jefferson's 35 points
CHARLOTTE 101, DENVER 98

By DENNIS GEORGATOS
Associated Press

DENVER (AP) -- Al Jefferson is pulling away in a big way from a
slow, painful start to his season.

Jefferson matched a season high with 35 points, including a key
basket in the final seconds, and the Charlotte Bobcats hung on
to beat the Denver Nuggets 101-98 on Wednesday night.

It was the 10th consecutive game in which Jefferson has scored
at least 20 points, an offensive flurry reflecting his improved
health since missing nine of the Bobcats' first 12 games this
season because of a sprained right ankle.

"It is all about staying healthy," Jefferson said. "I am 85 or
90 percent right now. If I were 100 percent, I could be very
effective. I am working hard to get to 100 percent."

Jefferson looked awfully close to that in a game in which he
also had 11 rebounds for his 14th double-double in his last 22
games.

"He is scoring and then we are also scoring off him. His effect
on his teammates is good," Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said.

Gerald Henderson and Ramon Sessions each added 16 points for the
Bobcats who beat the Nuggets in Denver for only the second time
in eight games here.

Randy Foye scored a season-high 33 points to lead Denver, which
was without leading scorer Ty Lawson (left shoulder). His
replacement, Nate Robinson, was knocked out of the game in the
first quarter with a left knee sprain, forcing Foye into the
unfamiliar role of running the point.

"Nate and Ty, they push the ball and do so many different
things," Foye said. "I just tried to mimic some of the things
that Ty does, just being aggressive, taking it to the basket and
trying to make plays for everybody, picking my spots where I
needed to score.

"But we fouled a lot. We gave them the game. We got stops. They
got offensive rebounds and we fouled them. We made some bonehead
plays fouling them and just putting them on the free throw line.
But we'll figure this out. There's no quit in this team."

Robinson was hurt in a spill underneath the Nuggets' basket. He
got up gingerly and continued playing but was forced to leave
the game a short time later.

He did not return and the Nuggets said Robinson was scheduled to
undergo an MRI scan on Thursday to further evaluate the injury,
which the team initially described as a sprain.

Evan Fournier added 19 points for the Nuggets and Timofey Mozgov
had 15.

Up by one at the break, the Bobcats pulled into a 75-all tie
heading into the fourth period on a pair of free throws by
Sessions, helping to offset a 3-pointer by Fournier moments
earlier.

Jefferson's 6-foot jumper evened the score again, at 82-all, but
Fournier connected on a jumper and, after a turnover by the
Bobcats, Foye drained a 3-pointer to give the Nuggets a
five-point edge with 6:38 remaining.

Foye's long jumper produced a final tie at 95-95 with 1:08 left.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist made one of two free throws and, after
Wilson Chandler missed a contested reverse layup, Jefferson sank
a jumper for a 98-95 lead with 23.1 seconds remaining.

Darrell Arthur made a 3-pointer with 10.7 seconds left to pull
the Nuggets within 99-98, but after Henderson was fouled and
made one of two free throws with 9 seconds remaining, the
Bobcats' defense turned away shots from up close by Fournier and
Mozgov to help the Bobcats hang on.

"It was a weird play at the end," Jefferson said. "The rebound
(off Fournier's miss) got deflected in some kind of way. Mozgov
got the ball and had a clean shot at a layup, but MKG
(Kidd-Gilchrist) made a heck of a job to block it."

Added Henderson: "Those are plays that win games."

Leading by as many as 14 points early on, the Bobcats settled
for a 53-52 halftime lead as the Nuggets outscored Charlotte
31-21 in the second quarter.

Jefferson converted a three-point play to give Charlotte a 43-31
advantage with 5:47 remaining in the second, but Denver closed
the period on a 21-10 run capped by Arthur's 20-jumper an
instant before the first-half buzzer.

NOTES: The Bobcats' Ben Gordon missed the game because of
illness. ... The Nuggets and Bobcats meet one more time this
season on March 10 in Charlotte. ... Kemba Walker missed his
fifth game for the Bobcats since spraining his left ankle Jan.
18 against Miami. The Bobcats are 3-2 in that span. ...
Jefferson also scored 35 points against the New York Knicks on
Jan. 14. ... Foye's previous high this season was 24 points on
Jan. 9 against Oklahoma City.

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