Anthony and the upstart Nuggets will try to knock off the NBA’s best home team when they visit Arco Arena to take on the Pacific Division-leading Kings.
With Anthony, the third overall pick in this year’s draft, leading the way, the Nuggets have already surpassed their win total from all of last season, when they finished a dismal 17-65.
Denver is third in the high-powered Midwest Division, just 3 1/2 games behind the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs for first place.
On Friday, Anthony took all the abuse the Utah Jazz could dish out, scoring 15 of his 27 points in the second half to lead the Nuggets to a 106-96 victory at the Pepsi Center.
“Everybody from the point guard to the big men were physical out there,” Anthony said. “That just boosts my energy up and makes me want to play even more physical.”
Anthony received help from power forward Marcus Camby, who gritted his way to eight points, 11 rebounds, eight blocks, five steals and five assists, making him the fourth player in the past decade to put up five in at least five categories.
The Kings, a league-best 18-2 at Arco, have won five of their last six, including Friday’s 113-93 victory at Phoenix.
Peja Stojakovic continued his torrid scoring with 29 points and 12 rebounds, leading the Sacramento offense for a fourth straight game and boosting his season average to 24.9 points per game—third-best in the league.
“I’m a shooter,” Stojakovic said. “Everybody said, ‘Keep shooting, keep shooting.’ So that’s what I’m doing. Either it goes in or not. If it doesn’t go in, Vlade (Divac) is going to get the rebound.”
The Kings won eight straight against the Nuggets before a 109-98 loss at Denver on Nov. 1. Anthony led the way for the Nuggets in that win with 23 points, six rebounds and five assists.
STANDINGS (through Jan. 9): Nuggets - 3rd place, 3 1/2 GB, Midwest Division. Kings - 1st place, Pacific Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Nuggets - Anthony, 18.4 ppg; Camby, 9.2 rpg; Andre Miller, 6.2 apg. Kings - Stojakovic, 24.9 ppg; Brad Miller, 10.8 rpg; Bibby, 5.7 apg.
SEASON SERIES: Nuggets, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Nov. 1; Nuggets, 109-88. At Denver, Lenard scored 15 points and Chris Anderson and Rodney White added 12 each off the bench for the Nuggets. Stojakovic led Sacramento with 19 points.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Nuggets - 7-9 on the road; Kings - 18-2 at home.