New York (1-3) at Denver (0-2)

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  • Game info: 9:00 pm EST Wed Nov 8, 2006
  • TV: ALT
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Carmelo Anthony’s importance to the Denver Nuggets was obvious last season. The Nuggets have quickly realized his value this season as well.

Following a four-day break, the Nuggets look for their first win of the season on Wednesday when they host the New York Knicks.

Denver (0-2) has opened with two narrow losses, including a one-point defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday and a 112-109 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves the next night.

Anthony and Earl Boykins each scored 28 points against the Timberwolves, but it was Anthony’s struggles in the final minutes of the game that cost Denver a chance at the win. The 22-year-old forward, who was ejected in the third quarter of the team’s season-opening loss after being called for two technicals, missed four shots in the final 14 seconds.

“When you’re out there scrambling, trying to make a prayer shot, it’s kind of hard,” said Anthony, who led the Nuggets with 26.5 points per game last season. “I wanted it. I wanted it. Sometimes I make it, sometimes I don’t. I think I’ve got to get back into my game-winning shape.”

Three of the misses were from 3-point range, the first of which irritated coach George Karl, who had instructed his team to go for the quick two-pointer and the steal.

“It was definitely a quick-two situation,” Karl said. “I think with 18 seconds, we’ve got the ball, it’s just take it up the court and attack. If you fall into a good 3, you shoot it, but the 3s weren’t that good.”

Anthony, a New York City native, has averaged 25.8 points in six matchups with the Knicks. He scored 35 in the teams’ most recent meeting on March 13 as Denver beat New York for the third straight time, 108-96.

The Knicks (1-3), who have only won once in their last six trips to Denver, have lost three straight since a triple-overtime win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Their latest defeat came on Monday, 105-93 to the San Antonio Spurs.

The Spurs led 52-29 with 3:34 remaining in the first half when coach Isiah Thomas benched high-priced starters Stephon Marbury and Eddy Curry. With starter Quentin Richardson remaining on the floor, as well as Nate Robinson, David Lee, Malik Rose and Mardy Collins, the latter two of which hadn’t scored in the team’s first three games, New York ended the half on a 12-2 run.

Thomas sent the same group onto the floor to start the second half.

“The guys that were out there, they were getting the job done,” said Marbury, who finished with 18 points. “They were playing with energy and getting us back in the game.”

The momentum didn’t hold as the Knicks entered the fourth quarter down by 15 points. A 20-2 run pulled New York within a point with just over 4 minutes to play, but Robinson and Curry committed costly turnovers and the team failed to score until 27 seconds were left in the game.

While Thomas said he was pleased with the bench players who “fought their tails off,” his frustration with the team was evident.

“I’m a fighter myself and I want people who are going to fight and compete,” Thomas said. “And if you’re not going to fight and compete, then I’m the president and we can give you a pink slip, too.”

One player who might be out of New York’s lineup Wednesday is guard Steve Francis, who sat out the second half against San Antonio with an injured left ankle. X-rays were negative.

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Wednesday, Nov 8