Bobcats beat Nuggets behind Jefferson’s 35 points

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.

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