- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 14, 2009

DENVER (AP) - 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 Los Angeles 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 3-of-10 shooting and pulling down 11 rebounds.

Balkman scored a career-best 22 points to go with his 11 rebounds _ his second straight double-double _ and Nene scored 17 points and pulled down 10 boards.

Carmelo Anthony added 18 points and J.R. Smith 17 for Denver. Al Thornton led Los Angeles with 19 points.

The Nuggets never trailed and were hardly threatened in returning to the top of the Northwest Division, tied with idle Portland one-half game ahead of Utah, which lost in triple overtime at Miami earlier Saturday.

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 named the NBA’s defensive player of the year 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 year because of a rash of injuries, the Nuggets didn’t suffer from losing their best defender. They’re allowing 100 points per game this season after yielding an average of 107 last year, and Chris Andersen has proven a more energetic shot-swatter than Camby was.

The Nuggets took a 51-46 lead into the locker room at halftime and an 85-71 lead into the fourth quarter. They led by as many as 20 put their lead was trimmed to nine midway through the fourth on Steve Novak’s fifth 3-pointer. Novak finished with 17 points, same as Eric Gordon.

Notes:@ Balkman’s previous career high was 18 points against Washington in 2006, when he was a member of the New York Knicks. … Before Wednesday night’s double-double against Oklahoma City, Balkman hadn’t posted a double-double since Feb. 1, 2008. … Clippers C Zach Randolph missed the game to attend his father’s funeral in Indiana, but is expected back for Sunday’s home game against New Jersey. … Clippers G Mardy Collins (foot) didn’t play.

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