Carmelo Anthony has made crucial shots for the Denver Nuggets in their last two victories. On Monday, he’ll look to lift the Nuggets to another win as they host the Indiana Pacers in a matchup of streaking teams.
Anthony scored 22 points to lead six Denver players in double figures in a 105-100 win over New Orleans on Saturday - the Nuggets’ third straight victory and fifth in six games. The forward helped his team survive a furious rally, as the Hornets erased a 77-51 deficit before Anthony’s layup with 56.5 seconds left put Denver up for good at 101-100.
It was the second straight game Anthony came through, as his 3-pointer with 0.1 second left lifted Denver (23-12) over Oklahoma City 122-120 on Friday.
“Another day at the office,” Anthony said after Saturday’s victory. “We blew a lead tonight, but we won. I’ll take that any day.”
The Nuggets will now be trying to match their longest winning streak of the season. Denver leads the Northwest Division and is looking to strengthen its hold on the top spot with this seven-game homestand.
The Nuggets are 12-4 at the Pepsi Center, having won three straight there, and 5-1 on the homestand.
“It allows the opportunity to establish ourselves as contenders for the division,” coach George Karl said.
Karl’s team split the two meetings with the Pacers (12-21) last season and has won five of the last six matchups, and three of four in Denver. Anthony is averaging 30.1 points in his last seven games against Indiana.
Monday begins a five-game road trip for the Pacers, who are 5-12 away from Conseco Fieldhouse. Indiana, though, has won three of its last four road games.
The Pacers are trying to win their third straight, which would match a season high. They’re coming off a 122-117 victory over Sacramento on Saturday, as Danny Granger scored 13 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter and made all six of his free throws in the final 1:30.
Granger, among the NBA’s top scorers at 25.1 points per game, has averaged 29.0 in the last four contests. He was 10-of-20 from the field Saturday and had six rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots.
“I’m in awe right now, but it’s important not to be a spectator when he gets the ball,” Indiana center Roy Hibbert said of Granger. “Down the clock, I’m not worried when the ball is in his hands.”
The Pacers’ back-to-back wins came after they lost four in a row by a combined 12 points.
“Games that we have lost we know we could have won,” Granger said, “and I feel this is a good beginning for this year.”
Also giving the Pacers reason for optimism despite sitting in the Central Division cellar is Mike Dunleavy, who’s close to making his 2008-09 debut. Dunleavy, Indiana’s second-leading scorer last season at 19.1 points per game, hasn’t played yet due to soreness in his right knee.
He could return by the end of this trip.
“When you have two 20-point scorers, it makes the offense a lot better,” Granger said.