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Anthony scores 23 for Denver in loss

10/20/2003

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- Carmelo Anthony finally lost a game in the
Carrier Dome, and it really didn't matter.

Making his first appearance on Jim Boeheim Court since he led
Syracuse to the NCAA national championship in April as a freshman,
Anthony scored a game-high 23 points Sunday night for his new team,
the Denver Nuggets.

Even though Mehmet Okur's driving layup with 2.3 seconds left
gave the Detroit Pistons a 93-91 exhibition victory, it was a
triumphant night for the former Orangeman, who was greeted with a
thunderous cheer in the pre-game introductions.

"Being here brought back a lot of memories. We were 17-0 here
last year," said Anthony, who a year ago had just finished his
second day of practice with the Orangemen. "It's been nice, but
now I've got to get out of here."

Before he left, he gave the fans another signature performance.
He was 7-for-13 shooting and 9-for-13 from the free-throw line in
34 minutes. He also had two assists and a pair of steals as
Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim watched his former star from a
courtside seat.

"I think we did a good job competing," said Anthony, who
played only one year for the Orangemen before jumping to the NBA.
"I'm more excited to get this game out of the way. I gave back.
Now I can just go and focus on tomorrow's game."

Chucky Atkins led the Pistons with 19 points, Tayshaun Prince
had 15, Chauncey Billups had 14, Okur had 12, and Zeljko Rebraca
11.

Nene had 18 points and Rodney White finished with 17 for Denver.

Anthony, who sat on the bench for much of the second half,
returned with 3:31 left as the crowd chanted, "We want Melo! We
want Melo!" He hit a driving layup with 59 seconds remaining to
tie the game at 89 but was unable to create any more magic.

After Okur's basket, Anthony inbounded the ball to White, but he
was unable to get off a shot before the buzzer.

Afterward, Detroit coach Larry Brown praised the Nuggets' prized
rookie, the third pick in June's NBA draft. After five preseason
games, Anthony leads Denver in scoring with 19.5 points per game.

"Everybody that's seen him loves him, and they should. He's a
great kid," Brown said. "He has a smile on his face all the time.
The referees will respect that. He's got instant respect already in
our league."

"His emotions are always in check," Denver coach Jeff Bzdelik
said. "He doesn't play like a rookie. He plays like a veteran. He
has great instinctive qualities for the game that can't be
taught."

That smile also captivated the Syracuse faithful like nobody
else before him. Anthony, who grew up in a poor Baltimore
neighborhood he dubbed "the pharmacy" because of rampant drug
abuse, became so popular here that the fans did their best to
persuade him to stay as he was trying to decide whether to play his
sophomore season for the Orangemen or turn pro.

In the season finale against Rutgers last March, an NCAA
on-campus-record crowd of 33,071 turned out for what was a
meaningless game -- the Scarlet Knights didn't even qualify for the
Big East tournament -- and repeatedly implored him to stay "One
more year!"

A more modest crowd of 20,315 turned out Sunday night for
another look at Anthony, who signed a multimillion-dollar contract
with Denver at the ripe old age of 19.

Brown was impressed.

"The kid left early and they still come out to support him,"
Brown said. "They still came out to support him and understand
this is an unbelievable opportunity for him. I love that."