DENVER (AP)—Carmelo Anthony had an easier time matching the NBA record for points in a quarter than he did trying to figure it out.
Anthony matched George Gervin’s NBA record with 33 points in the third and finished with a season-high 45 points in the Denver Nuggets’ 116-105 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night.
“I’ve never been a part of a quarter like that before,” Anthony said. “I just felt that good. I can’t explain it. My 3-ball was going in, driving to the basket, getting fouled. Just the complete game tonight.”
Gervin scored 33 points for San Antonio in the second quarter against New Orleans on April 9, 1978. Anthony broke the franchise record of 32 set by David Thompson against Detroit, also on April 9, 1978.
Chauncey Billups added 24 points in Denver’s eighth straight win over Minnesota. After the game, he was still in awe of Anthony’s performance.
“I’ve played against some great ones and played with some great ones,” said Billups, whose team trailed by 16 in the first half. “That’s the best I’ve ever seen in a 12-minute span. He was awesome. He got us back in the game, got us a nice lead. Single-handedly put us on his back tonight and did what a lot of great players do.”
Anthony has struggled with his shot, in part because of a sore right elbow. He said he banged it twice in the first half, but the pain didn’t bother him in the third.
“I was fighting through the pain. It was all good, though,” he said. “Once my 3-ball was going, I knew I’d be in pretty good shape.”
Al Jefferson had 26 points and 12 rebounds, and Randy Foye also scored 26 points for Minnesota, which has lost seven straight games and two in a row since Kevin McHale took over as head coach on Monday.
Anthony, who had nine points at halftime, took over the game in the third quarter, scoring 26 straight points for the Nuggets at one point. His steal and dunk sparked the Nuggets’ rally from a 12-point halftime deficit, and he pumped his fist after hitting a 3-pointer that tied it at 60.
“He got rolling. He put a show on in that third quarter,” McHale said.
Anthony, who also had a team-high 11 rebounds, wasn’t done. His putback layup gave Denver its first lead since midway through the first quarter, and he followed that with a 3-pointer and a fast-break dunk to make it 68-62 with 4:35 left in the third.
“He was taking a lot of his shots from the outside, and those are the ones we wanted him to take,” Minnesota forward Ryan Gomes said. “But tonight was a night where they were all going in.”
He hit two 3-pointers to extend Denver’s lead to 82-76, and he finished the quarter with a driving layup with 1.8 seconds left to give the Nuggets an 84-78 lead.
“Pretty incredible explosion,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “We needed it, too. It was a game we needed someone to step forward, and it was a pretty good show.”
Minnesota didn’t go away quietly. Foye and Jefferson made back-to-back baskets to cut Denver’s lead to 94-92 with 6:47 left, but J.R. Smith’s three-point play and a layup by Anthony made it 101-92. Billups and Anthony Carter hit consecutive 3-pointers to push the lead to 10 with 3:38 left. Minnesota got no closer then eight the rest of the way.
Anthony scored only three points in the fourth quarter but left to a standing ovation with 52.7 seconds left in the game and Denver ahead by 11.
Anthony’s career high is 49 set against Washington last February. He said Billups was urging him to go for 50 points in the fourth.
“Chauncey kept saying, ‘Go get it! Go get it!”’ Anthony said. “I’ve been looking for a game like this.”
Denver’s Kenyon Martin missed his second straight game and third overall because of a sprained left wrist. Renaldo Balkman started in his place. … Denver’s eight-game winning streak against Minnesota is its longest current streak against any NBA team. … The Nuggets assigned G Sonny Weems and C Cheikh Samb to the Colorado 14ers of the NBDL.