Nuggets 107, Knicks 96
“Five in a row was tough enough to take and we needed this one badly,” Anthony said. “This one put us back on track where we’re supposed to be.”
That would be with a 2 1/2 -game lead over idle Utah for the eighth spot in the Western Conference playoffs.
New York has dropped six in a row.
“Carmelo is a very confident player and a very mature player, too,” Denver coach Jeff Bzdelik said. “He is learning the pro game well and doesn’t appear ready to hit the wall.”
Anthony, who shot 8-for-15, played only a minute into the fourth quarter. Francisco Elson had 12 points and Nene and Earl Boykins 11 points each for the Nuggets, who also ended a three-game losing streak to the Knicks.
“We are killing ourselves with turnovers,” said New York coach Lenny Wilkens who watched 27 Knicks turnovers turned into 33 points. “We had 17 in the first half, a lot of them unforced. We have to be more patient.”
Boykins had four points in a 6-0 spurt early in the fourth quarter to put Denver ahead 90-72. But the Knicks had a 7-0 run, and baskets by Nazr Mohammed and Anfernee Hardaway get New York to within 93-83 with 6:25 remaining. Baskets by White and Lenard and two free throws by Nene put the Nuggets up by 99-86.
“I sat down the fourth quarter and it didn’t bother me,” Anthony said. “I always want to be out there, but as long as our lead was close to 11, I didn’t mind.”
New York made a final run on jumpers by Anderson and Kurt Thomas with 3:10 remaining. The Nuggets got a rebound dunk by Chris Andersen and a layup from White. The Knicks had only a 3-pointer by Tim Thomas and one free throw from Shandon Anderson the rest of the way.
Already ahead by nine, Andre Miller hit two jumpers between an airball by Dikembe Mutombo to put Denver ahead 56-43 early in the second half. Elson had four points and Anthony a 3-pointer in a four-minute stretch that gave the Nuggets their biggest lead, 80-63.
The Knicks cut the deficit to 84-72 by the end of the third quarter on a jumper by Kurt Thomas and basket and free throw by Hardaway.
With its starters on the bench, Denver maintained its 10-point advantage through the first five minutes of the second quarter as Boykins finished fast breaks with a jumper and a 3-pointer.
Allan Houston, who missed the last 11 games with a sore left knee, got it down to 43-35 on a jumper with 4:50 left. But Anthony hit three shots, including a 3-pointer, and two free throws.
Baskets by Hardaway and Kurt Thomas made it a nine-point game at the half.
Houston connected on his first shot of the game and had five points, but the Knicks had nine turnovers in the first quarter to fall behind 31-21. Anthony had seven points and the Nuggets converted the turnovers into 14 points in the period.
“There were a couple of things that I saw tonight with it being my first time back that we really aren’t doing well,” Houston said. “We aren’t playingpick-and-roll as well, and we are not giving our offense a chance.” ^Notes: Mutombo received a standing ovation when he entered the game in the second quarter and then was roundly booed when he elbowed Elson to the floor. … The Knicks are 2-4 on Feb. 29; the Nuggets are 1-4. … New York is 10-11 under Lenny Wilkens. … Marcus Camby sat out with a strained right groin. …Denver is 9-9 on the second night of back-to-back games