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Camby gets mixed reception

March 15, 2009|Associated Press

DENVER — Marcus Camby was treated great by the fans in his return to Denver. Not by his former teammates.

After getting a rousing ovation and a hug from a little girl sitting courtside who was wearing one of his old Nuggets jerseys, Camby watched Nene and Renaldo Balkman each post a double-double in Denver's 107-94 win over the Clippers on Saturday night.

Camby struggled with his shot in his first game at the Pepsi Center since the Nuggets traded him to the Clippers last summer for salary-cap relief, scoring 11 points on three-for-10 shooting and pulling down 11 rebounds.

Balkman scored a career-best 22 points to go with 11 rebounds -- his second consecutive double-double -- and Nene had 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Carmelo Anthony had 18 points and J.R. Smith had 17 for Denver. Al Thornton led the Clippers with 19.

It took a long time for Camby, the league's leading shot blocker the last three seasons, to get over his dismissal from Denver last summer for the option to exchange second-round picks with the Clippers in 2010. One reason for his chagrin was that the Nuggets didn't tell him he was traded; he had to get the news from his agent.

Camby, a fan favorite who returned to open the Cambyland Teen Center in Denver on Friday night, played six seasons in Denver, where he was selected the defensive player of the year in the NBA in 2006-07.

To Camby's surprise, the Nuggets got nobody in return for him, although they were relieved of his $10 million salary-cap figure -- double that when you take into account the league's luxury tax threshold that Denver was above at the time of the trade.

While the Clippers have struggled all season because of a rash of injuries, the Nuggets didn't suffer from losing their best defender. They're giving up 100 points per game this season after yielding an average of 107 last season, and Chris Andersen has proven a more energetic shot-swatter than Camby was.

The Nuggets took a 51-46 lead at halftime and an 85-71 lead into the fourth quarter. They led by as many as 20 points but their lead was trimmed to nine points midway through the fourth quarter on Steve Novak's fifth three-point basket. Novak finished with 17 points, same as Eric Gordon.

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