Anthony returns with 34, Knicks defeat Nuggets

BRIAN MAHONEY AP Basketball Writer Published:

NEW YORK (AP) -- Carmelo Anthony insists there is no grudge against the Denver Nuggets. He just didn't want his old team -- or anyone else -- walking into his current home and leaving with a victory.

Anthony returned from a two-game absence with 34 points against his former team, and the New York Knicks beat the Nuggets 112-106 on Sunday night to remain the NBA's lone unbeaten team at home.

Back in the starting lineup after missing two games with a cut on the middle finger of his left hand that required stitches, Anthony twice made baskets in the final 2:08 after Denver had pulled within four points.

"I don't have no hard feelings toward Denver. It was just one of them games that no matter how many runs we went on, they just wasn't going anywhere," Anthony said.

"It was just a matter of us and me not wanting to lose on our home court, protecting our home court. That's something that we always said and we believed in. So there came a point in time in that fourth quarter where it was called upon me to step up."

Jason Kidd scored 17 points for the Knicks, who bounced back from their worst offensive performance of the season a night earlier in Chicago and improved to 8-0 at Madison Square Garden. Tyson Chandler and J.R. Smith each had 15 points.

It's the Knicks' best start at home since beginning 9-0 in 1992-93.

Ty Lawson had 23 points and Danilo Gallinari had 21 points and nine rebounds against the team that drafted him and later dealt him in the package for Anthony in February 2011.

Anthony decided to play after working out before the game, shooting 10 of 24 while adjusting to playing with the finger covered. He beat the Nuggets for the first time after the Knicks dropped a double-overtime game here last season.

And no matter what Anthony said, Chandler said players never stop wanting to beat their old team.

"You always want to show them what they're missing and I think they saw tonight," Chandler said.

Corey Brewer made the first two baskets of the fourth to give Denver an 88-80 lead, but the Knicks came right back with consecutive 3-pointers by Steve Novak and a dunk by Chandler to tie it. Ronnie Brewer scored the next four points to make it a 12-0 run, and after a basket by Kenneth Faried, Anthony made a jumper and a 3-pointer as the Knicks opened a 97-90 advantage.

Denver from there could get it down as close as four, Anthony nailing a jumper on one occasion and driving into the lane for another basket to keep the Nuggets away.

"Tonight we let one player get hot, Melo, and once he started hitting he was unstoppable," Faried said.

THUNDER 104, PACERS 93

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Kevin Durant scored 27 points, Kevin Martin added 24 and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Indiana Pacers 104-93 on Sunday night for their eighth straight win.

A meeting of the NBA's highest-scoring offense and the league's stingiest defense went the Thunder's way as they eclipsed 100 points for the 12th straight game.

Of course, Oklahoma City boasts the NBA's second-best defense to go with all that offensive firepower.

JAZZ 117, LAKERS 110

LOS ANGELES -- Paul Millsap scored 24 points, Mo Williams added 22 and Utah won its third straight.

Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 34 points, making 12 of 14 free throws, as they fell to 4-7 in their last 11 games.

Al Jefferson and reserves Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter added 14 points each for the Jazz, which improved to 4-9 on the road in ending a two-game skid away from home.

The Lakers never led in the second half while losing their second in a row. They trailed by three to start the fourth quarter only to get outscored 20-8 and fall behind by 15. Hayward had seven points and Kanter six in Utah's spurt.

MAGIC 98, SUNS 90

PHOENIX -- Rookie Andrew Nicholson scored nine of his career-high 19 points in the fourth quarter and Orlando handed Phoenix its seventh straight loss.

Nicholson made 9 of 11 shots and grabbed nine rebounds, also the best of his young career.

J.J. Redick scored 17 of his 20 points in the first half for the Magic in the final stop of their five-game road trip.

Shannon Brown scored 17 and Jared Dudley 15 for the Suns, who were without starting point guard Goran Dragic due to illness.

Phoenix's losing streak is its longest since 2004.

BUCKS 97, NETS 88

NEW YORK -- Brandon Jennings scored 26 points, Monta Ellis had 24 points and Milwaukee withstood Brooklyn's fourth-quarter rally.

The Bucks led by 29 points with 6:59 left in the third quarter but the Nets got within six after Deron Williams found Kris Humphries open for an uncontested dunk.

Ellis' layup then made it 87-79 before the Nets called a timeout with 2:24 left in regulation. On the ensuing play, Gerald Wallace lost his balance and the ball and Milwaukee's Larry Sanders made a reverse layup to extend the Bucks' lead to 10 points. MarShon Brooks, who scored 14 points, then hit a 3-pointer to bring the Nets within seven but Marquis Daniels' hit a 3-pointer to put the game out of reach.

CLIPPERS 102, RAPTORS 83

LOS ANGELES -- Jamal Crawford led a fourth-quarter rally by the reserves with 16 points and the Clippers won their sixth in a row and handed Toronto its 10th consecutive road loss.

The backups gave the Clippers their first double-digit lead of the game after Toronto kept it close through the first three periods before dropping its fourth straight and 10th in its last 11. The Raptors have just four wins this season.

Eric Bledsoe added 14 points to help the Clippers' reserves outscore their counterparts 47-24.

Blake Griffin led the Clippers with 19 points. Chris Paul added 16 points and DeAndre Jordan had 10 rebounds.

Toronto's DeMar DeRozan scored 24 points in his hometown.

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