Oklahoma City (12-10) at Denver (17-7)

  • Game info: 9:00 pm EST Mon Dec 14, 2009
  • TV: FSOK, ALT
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Carmelo Anthony(notes) and Kevin Durant(notes) put on quite a show the three times they faced each other last season.

Anthony and the Denver Nuggets open their season series with Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder when two of the NBA’s leading scorers meet Monday night at the Pepsi Center.

Denver (17-7) swept the four-game season series from Oklahoma City (12-10) in 2008-09, with Durant missing one contest with an ankle injury. When they were both on the court, each player topped 30 points every time in high-scoring shootouts.

Durant averaged 31.7 points in the three meetings and Anthony 31.3. But it was Anthony who upstaged Durant with game-winning shots late in two wins on the road - 122-120 on Jan. 2 and 114-113 on Feb. 4.

Each scored 31 in the last matchup in Denver as the Nuggets won 122-112 on April 8.

Judging by how the superstars have played this season, Monday’s matchup should be another entertaining affair. Anthony leads the NBA in scoring with 30.3 points per game with Durant not far behind in third at 28.3.

Anthony and the Nuggets gained some confidence after avoiding a third straight loss Saturday with a 105-99 victory over Phoenix in the opener of a three-game homestand. Denver trailed by 17 points midway through the third quarter.

“I think it was a character win for us,” said Anthony, who scored 32 points. “For us to be down 17 here on our homecourt and to come back against one of the elite teams in the Western Conference is a confidence booster.”

The Nuggets got a huge effort from Chauncey Billups(notes). The point guard was outplayed in the first half by Steve Nash(notes), picking up three fouls before scoring 17 of his 24 points after the break.

“I have confidence in myself, man,” Billups said. “I’m not going to go out and just shoot and shoot and shoot and just do something crazy until I’m 1-for-25. I was having my way, to be honest with you, getting to the rack. But three fouls took my aggressiveness and some of my minutes, as well.”

The Nuggets had lost back-to-back games without Kenyon Martin(notes), who was out with a dislocated left pinkie. He returned to the lineup and had 12 points and nine rebounds against the Suns.

“I’ll tell you what, he does not get enough credit around here, man,” Billups said. “Just defensively, and him being the quarterback and him being the emotional leader and him being vocal and the toughness he brings. He’s up there being one of the MVPs of this team, man.”

Oklahoma City is trying for its second three-game road win streak of the season. The Thunder are also seeking to bounce back after a 102-89 home loss to Cleveland on Sunday.

Containing Anthony could be a challenge after Oklahoma City struggled against LeBron James(notes), who scored a season-high 44 points.

“It’s tough to guard a guy who’s that quick, that strong, that’s making shots that deep,” forward Jeff Green(notes) said. “He’s one of the top players in the NBA. He turned it on when his team needed it the most.”

Durant scored 29 points and Green added a season-high 26 against the Cavaliers.

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Monday, Dec 14