<
>

Melo leads six Nuggets in double figures

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- George Karl made a triumphant return to the NBA
at the expense of his former team.

"I'm going to drink beer," Karl said after directing the
Denver Nuggets to a 106-100 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on
Friday night. "Beer tastes like champagne after wins like
tonight."

Out of the NBA since the Bucks fired him in 2003, Karl took over
the Nuggets on Thursday. Denver fired Jeff Bzdelik on Dec. 28, and
Michael Cooper coached the team on an interim basis before Karl's
hiring.

Acknowledging that he was rusty, Karl gave most of the credit to
his players for the victory and said he coached against his former
team as if it was a playoff game.

"You always want to win against your former team," Denver's
Marcus Camby said. "He didn't say publicly he wanted to beat the
Bucks, but you could just tell he wanted this one real bad."

Karl said he forgot to practice new offensive plays against zone
defenses at his team's practice Friday morning, but the Nuggets
used their old plays to rip Milwaukee's zone in the final quarter,
outscoring the Bucks 38-20.

"The fourth quarter was our downfall," Milwaukee coach Terry
Porter said.

Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points for Denver, which overcame a
14-point deficit to snap a three-game losing streak.

The Nuggets used a 26-4 run to take a 92-84 lead with 4:12 left.

Karl said he was frustrated by his team's defense at times as
Milwaukee scored 31 points in the first quarter and 30 in the
third.

"I hate 30-point quarters and I lost my temper both times,"
Karl said. "You've got to be really bad to give up 30 points."

In the final quarter, though, it was the Bucks who played poor
defense, blowing a double-digit lead.

"You've got to have a killer instinct and we didn't have
that," Porter said. "We haven't had that all year for the most
part."

Milwaukee pulled to 103-100 on Maurice Williams' 3-pointer with
23 seconds left. Denver's Andre Miller then hit a free throw with
21 seconds to go, and Marcus Camby scored on a tipin after Miller
missed his second free-throw attempt.

Earl Boykins scored 17 points, and Nene added 13 for the
Nuggets. Both players had nine points in the final quarter.

"We got stops in the fourth quarter and we were able to
score," Boykins said. "That was really the key."

Michael Redd scored 26 points for Milwaukee, and Dan Gadzuric
tied a career high with 19 points.

Milwaukee missed 12 of its first 14 shots in the fourth quarter,
allowing the Nuggets to get back into the game.

Game notes
Denver F Kenyon Martin strained his right groin strain in
the fourth quarter and is listed as a game-time decision for the
Nuggets' game at Indiana Saturday night. ... Karl received many
more cheers than boos when he was announced by the PA announcer
before the game. ... Karl remained seated until after the first
timeout of the first quarter, then started standing on the
sideline. ... Bucks F Zaza Pachulia left the game in the second
quarter because of a knee injury. He returned in the fourth
quarter. ... Karl only used eight players in the game. ... Denver's
reserves outscored Milwaukee's backups 37-12.