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Karl improves to 3-0 as Nuggets coach

DENVER (AP) -- George Karl was nervous before his home debut in
Denver. Kenyon Martin put his new coach at ease with another big
performance.

Martin scored a season-high 27 points, Carmelo Anthony added 19
and the Nuggets beat the free-falling New York Knicks 96-76 on
Tuesday night for their third consecutive victory under Karl.

"I had butterflies, I have them every game," Karl said.
"Having a night we got from Kenyon made it a lot easier."

Martin followed a 25-point game against Indiana with an
11-for-17 shooting performance. Karl received a nice ovation when
he walked onto the court, then improved to 3-0 since taking over
for interim coach Michael Cooper.

"It was just a nice evening all the way around," Karl said.
"We played so well defensively and we had a good game from Kenyon,
who is not a great offensive player, but I think he's a good
offensive player."

The night did not go as well for the Knicks, who were coming off
a loss to the Clippers in Los Angeles on Monday night. The Knicks
got 20 points from Jamal Crawford but lost for the 14th time in 16
games.

"I wouldn't call it our worst performance, but we didn't come
out with much energy," New York coach Herb Williams said. "If you
don't come out with more energy or at least match their energy,
then you are going to get flattened out and they will take you out
of the game."

New York's last lead came late in the first quarter when Stephon
Marbury's short jumper put the Knicks up 21-20. That was quickly
erased when Denver outscored New York 5-0 to end the quarter.
Anthony ran down a loose ball and hit a 16-footer to beat the
buzzer.

Earl Boykins had a layup off a turnover, and the Nuggets' lead
reached 42-31 with 5:23 left in the second quarter. Martin's two
dunks offset two 3-pointers by Crawford, and Denver took a 57-45
lead into halftime.

New York then managed only 12 points in the third quarter, and
Denver capitalized to increase its lead to 75-57 after three.

"We were definitely having trouble mustering up energy on a
back-to-back," Crawford said. "You knew it was going to be tough
because the air is so thin up here, but we were right there until
it got away from us."

The Knicks, 4-for-17 in the period, didn't have a field goal
until Penny Hardaway and Marbury hit consecutive shots nearly six
minutes in. Anthony's rebound basket with 6:27 left made it 67-48.
Martin scored eight of Denver's last 10 points in the quarter.

"I was open and my teammates were finding me and getting me the
ball," said Martin, who taunted the Knicks' bench after each
basket.

A thunderous dunk by Martin two minutes into the fourth ended
his night with Denver ahead 77-59.

"It all starts with the coach," Martin said. "He is bringing
us energy with his pregame speeches and we're paying attention to
him."

Game notes
Marbury was 4-for-12 shooting with 12 points. ... Williams
said Tim Thomas was closer to coming back from a strained right
calf that's kept him out since Jan. 25. ... The Knicks are 4-9 on
the second night of back-to-back games. ... A sore right foot
sidelined Denver's backup center, Francisco Elson. ... Boykins
played in his 195th straight game with the Nuggets, Andre Miller
his 167th straight with Denver.