Stephen Jackson scored 23 points and the host Charlotte Bobcats held off Denver, 100-98, on Tuesday night to deny Nuggets coach George Karl his 1,000th NBA win.
Returning to North Carolina, where he played in college, and going up against his longtime friend and fellow former Tar Heel Larry Brown, Karl had hoped to become the seventh coach of the 1,000-win club in Charlotte.
The Nuggets nearly rallied from eight points down with 90 seconds left, but Chauncey Billups missed a tying jumper as time expired.
Billups scored 25 points and Carmelo Anthony added 22 points and seven rebounds for the Nuggets, who had won seven straight.
Jackson scored nine points in the fourth quarter, including consecutive three-pointers to put Charlotte ahead by 95-88 with 3 minutes, 23 seconds left. Boris Diaw's bucket with 1:35 left made it 99-91.
But the Nuggets stormed back, and after Jackson failed to hit the rim on a three-point attempt, the Nuggets had a chance to tie. Billups dribbled the ball into the right corner, but his fadeaway bounced off the rim at the buzzer.
It left the 59-year-old Karl stuck at 999 wins heading into a game at Boston on Wednesday.
Elsewhere: Josh Smith scored a season-high 34 points and the streaking Atlanta Hawks beat the visiting New Jersey Nets, 116-101. Smith made 14 of 16 shots from the field. When it was over, he blew kisses to the crowd. Brook Lopez led New Jersey with 24 points. . . . Luis Scola had 35 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Rockets to a 97-83 win over the Detroit Pistons, ruining Tracy McGrady's return to Houston.
McGrady hit a three-pointer with about eight minutes left to get the Pistons within one, but Houston scored the next seven points to stretch the lead to 85-77 with six minutes remaining. McGrady, who spent 51/2 seasons with the Rockets, finished with 11 points. . . . Third-string center Ian Mahinmi had 12 points and a career-high 10 rebounds and fourth-stringer Alexis Ajinca provided quality minutes to help the host Dallas Mavericks beat the Golden State Warriors, 105-100, for their 10th straight victory.
The New Jersey Nets recalled swingman Terrence Williams from Springfield of the NBA Development League. Williams was sent down last month, after some lateness violations and other disagreements with the club.