Final

Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 2)

Series starts 10/14

Game 1: Thursday, October 14th
Bucks91Final
Nuggets97
Game 2: Saturday, October 16th
Nuggets91Final
Bucks93

Bucks 91

(1-1, 0-1 away)

Nuggets 97

(1-0, 1-0 home)

    Coverage: ALT

    7:00 PM ET, October 14, 2004

    1 2 3 4 T
    MIL 25 18 28 2091
    DEN 22 32 22 2197

    'Melo scores 19 before early exit

    COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) -- Preseason or not, Carmelo Anthony wanted to show he's put a difficult offseason behind him.

    After a disappointing Olympics and a mishap at a bar, it's hard to blame him.

    Anthony had 19 points before sitting out most of the second half, and Earl Boykins added 18 points and six assists to help the Denver Nuggets win their preseason opener 97-91 over the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night.

    "Even though it was only a preseason game, I really wanted to come out and just show people that I still have my confidence," Anthony said. "Regardless of what happened this summer, I'm still the same the player, I still have my confidence and nothing will ever break that."

    Keith Van Horn and Michael Redd had 17 points each, and Desmond Mason added 16 for the Bucks, who seemed a step slow after playing in North Dakota the night before.

    "We definitely were not as sharp as last night," Milwaukee coach Terry Porter said. "We couldn't move the ball and we weren't as crisp when we needed to move tonight."

    Not that the fans at World Arena minded. They didn't come to see the Bucks. They wanted Anthony and he didn't disappoint.

    Anthony started off with a with a long jumper, then used five or six fakes on Van Horn to set up a baseline jumper. He kept going from there -- a square-up jumper, a no-look pass to Marcus Camby for a dunk, then a dunk of his own after a no-look pass from Boykins.

    Anthony also pinned Maurice Williams' shot against the backboard and finished off the first half with a 3-point play, a huge grin spreading across his face as the ball fell through the basket. He finished the half with 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting, adding five rebounds and two assists to give the Nuggets a 54-43 lead.

    Not bad for a player who earlier this week said he was still trying to get in shape.

    "I thought Carmelo did some very good things out there," Nuggets coach Jeff Bzdelik said. "He loves to play, I'm not worried about him. He'll be ready opening night.

    Anthony was superb, but the fans will have to wait the debut of Denver's other star, Kenyon Martin. The All-Star power forward stubbed a toe in his hotel room Thursday morning and watched in street clothes.

    "I told him he has to play on Saturday," Anthony said.

    Redd kept the Bucks in it in the first half, working his way through Denver's defense for some tough baskets at the rim. Van Horn did most of his work in the third quarter, scoring 11 points to help Milwaukee cut an 11-point deficit to 74-71 with 32 seconds left in the period.

    But the Bucks just didn't have enough energy to stay in it and the Nuggets pulled away early in the fourth quarter.

    "We played last night, so I think guys are a little tired now," Van Horn said. "We had a long camp and then the back-to-back was tough. But that is what preseason is about, getting in shape, getting used to each other and I feel really confident about this team."

    ^------=

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