DENVER (AP)—Anthony Carter explained his philosophy on scoring as he slipped on his canary yellow sweater vest.
“Points don’t mean nothin’ to me,” the Nuggets guard said. “But I just love getting assists.”
Carter did a little scoring and dishing as he helped Denver to a 113-103 win over the Orlando Magic on Friday night. He had 11 assists and tied a career high with 21 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter.
The fact that his previous best game also came against the Magic back in 1999 was merely a coincidence. Carter doesn’t get particularly fired up to play Orlando.
“It wasn’t about Orlando, just about winning,” he said.
After the game, Carter’s thoughts turned toward teammate Nene. Earlier in the day, Nene took an indefinite leave of absence from the team to take care of a personal medical issue. The team wouldn’t comment further on what was wrong with Nene, who missed 22 games earlier this season after surgery on his left thumb.
Carter said he couldn’t talk about what was wrong, but planned on calling him later.
“I’m very concerned,” he said.
So was Allen Iverson.
“He’s family,” said Iverson, who had 21 points and 13 assists. “Life is way more important than the game of basketball. We just want him to get his situation straightened and get back to the team as soon as possible. He needs to take care of himself first.”
However, the Nuggets still have one of their worst all-time winning percentages against Orlando with a 13-25 lifetime mark.
“Overall, we did a great job tonight with sticking in our scheme and doing what we had to do,” said Anthony, who also had 11 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the season.
Dwight Howard finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds, his NBA-leading 33rd double-double of the season. Howard was also whistled for two goaltending calls in the fourth quarter and accidentally knocked in a basket for the Nuggets in the first half.
“It was a tough game,” Howard said.
In more ways than one. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy thought Howard was being abused down low.
“They were allowed to do a lot of pushing and shoving on him,” he said. “When you’re Dwight Howard they give the other people …”
Van Gundy didn’t finish his sentence, just left his thought hanging in the air.
“I got a little frustrated toward the end,” Van Gundy said.
Orlando entered the game as one of the best road teams in the league, but has now dropped two of its last three away games. The Magic play at Utah on Saturday night, their final stop on a four-game road trip.
“For 3 1/2 quarters, we were in a (heck) of a game and then they made more plays than we did,” Van Gundy said.
And Carter led the charge. With just over 5 minutes remaining and the game tied at 98, the Nuggets scored seven straight points to seal the win. Carter had a 3-pointer, steal and an assist during the pivotal run.
“A.C. came up big, but he’s been making big plays for us all year,” said Iverson, who had five rebounds to give him 3,000 for his career. “It’s something we expect. We pretty much expect everyone to make plays. On different nights, it’s different guys. Tonight, it was A.C. He did a great job. He got us over the hump.”
Denver activated F Steven Hunter on Friday, but he didn’t get into the game. He’s been out since having arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Nov. 16. … Nuggets guard Chucky Atkins underwent successful surgery Friday to repair his strained right groin. He’s expected to be out for at least eight weeks. … Despite the loss, the Magic still have the most road wins in the NBA this season with 16. … Denver had 32 assists on Friday night. The team is 9-0 this season when it has 30 or more assists.