Anthony gains MVP honors
DENVER -- The unofficial ambassador of this year's All-Star Game got his chance to show that he, too, can play this game.
Carmelo Anthony took advantage of that opportunity, scoring 31 points Friday night to lead the sophomores to a 133-106 victory over the rookies in a matchup between the top stars from the two classes.
"It's another positive thing I can put on my resume," Anthony said.
It was his only on-court appearance of this All-Star week -- a period he has spent hosting parties, fund-raisers and generally showing his friends a good time around his adopted hometown.
Given his one chance to play, Anthony teamed with LeBron James for the first time since the Olympics, and fell just three points short of his season high with the Nuggets. He was the game's Most Valuable Player.
|How The Young Stars Have Fared|
|2005||Sophomores 133, Rookies 106||Carmelo Anthony, Nuggets|
|2004||Sophomores 142, Rookies 118||Amare Stoudemire, Suns|
|2003||Sophomores 132, Rookies 112||Gilbert Arenas, Warriors|
|2002||Rookies 103, Sophomores 97||Jason Richardson, Warriors|
|2001||Sophomores 121, Rookies 113||Wally Szczerbiak, Timberwolves|
|2000||Rookies 92, Sophomores 83 (OT)||
|1998||East 85, West 80||Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Cavaliers|
|1997||East 96, West 91||
|1996||East 94, West 92||Damon Stoudamire, Raptors|
|1995||White 83, Green 79 (OT)||
|1994||Phenoms 74, Sensations 68||Penny Hardaway, Magic|
"I know he can play the game of basketball," James said. "Things haven't gone his way so far this year, but he's trying to get his mind straight. I'm so happy for him that he got the MVP tonight. It was supposed to happen this way."
Recuperating from an injured ankle and a bout with the flu, James had 20 points. Dwyane Wade finished with 12 points and nine assists.
Even though this game will go down as a footnote during a weekend full of them, Anthony said he was glad to have played well.
"I go out there and I play basketball," he said. "I can't put my head down because I didn't make the game. Like I tell everybody, this is only my second year in the NBA. I'm going to be here for a long time. I'm not going anywhere."
Anthony's accomplishment came in a game that was surprisingly competitive.
Led by a handful of dunks by Tony Allen of the Celtics, the overmatched rookies -- who came in mainly seeking to avoid embarrassment -- held their lead into the second half.
Not until James made a 16-footer with 16:47 left did the sophomores take the lead for good.
"The sophomores spoke about it in the locker room at halftime," rookie Luol Deng said. "They came out and played with some intensity and we could see that."
As the half drew on, the sophomores' lead widened and play loosened up, although it never reached the silliness of last year's game, a 142-118 win for the sophomores that devolved into little more than a dunking contest.
Commissioner David Stern promised that scene wouldn't be repeated this year, and made it clear he wanted players' best efforts in this exhibition.
"He didn't want the game like it was last year," Anthony said. "It got a little out of hand, which we all agreed on."
With their coach, P.J. Carlesimo, pacing the sideline, Allen, Deng and Al Jefferson led the rookies with 17 points each.
But Anthony was the star and the fan favorite. His fiance, MTV VJ La La Vasquez, watched from her customary seat at courtside, and every move he made was greeted by oohs and ahhs from the fans.
The game, as usual, was filled with great dunks, none better than one early in the game when Wade feathered an underhanded pass in the lane up high for James, who slammed it down hard.
James finished with four slams -- including a thundering windmill dunk -- but that's all the fans will see until Sunday. He declined an invitation to participate in Saturday's dunk contest. Earlier in the day, he said it was because he didn't feel well enough. After the game, he told a different story.
"Why don't guys do it anymore? Because all the dunks are taken," James said. "There are no more dunks. If we come up with some new dunks, people might do it. Every time there's a dunk out there, people say they've seen it before."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press