DENVER (AP) -- Carmelo Anthony watched the end of the game from
the bench for all the right reasons.
Anthony scored 25 points in just 21 minutes Wednesday night to
lead the Denver Nuggets to a 120-101 victory over the Charlotte
The second-year star, who spent the final 17 minutes of Sunday's
loss to Phoenix on the bench, spent the final 14 minutes watching
this one -- but it wasn't because he was having a bad game. Rather,
he went 10-for-16 to help Denver put the game out of reach early.
"Something to prove? No. When you try to prove something to
somebody, it never works," Anthony said. "I just wanted to go
out, play basketball, continue doing what I was doing."
As a result, Denver had its best night of offense this season.
The Nuggets shot 54 percent and hit the 120-point mark for the
first time. They also finished with 40 assists -- the highest total
in the NBA this season.
"It goes to show that, as a team, we're capable of doing that --
sharing the ball," Anthony said. "When we want to be unselfish,
we can be unselfish."
Keith Bogans had 19 points and Emeka Okafor had 17 points and
eight rebounds for Charlotte, which played the first of a
three-game Western road swing. Seven of the expansion Bobcats' 12
wins this season have come against teams from the Western
Conference, including a 94-88 win over Denver last month.
"They held serve," Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "I
can't come up with any reason that we should have won the game.
They hurt us in every aspect of the game. It didn't matter what we
did or showed defensively."
Indeed, it was one of those nights for Denver. So good, in fact,
that 12th man and fan favorite Mark Pope got off the bench and
scored one basket -- his first points of the season -- in his five
Francisco Elson had 14 points and Earl Boykins added 10 points
and 11 assists for the Nuggets, who pulled a full game ahead of the
Lakers in the race for the final playoff spot in the West. This was
the second of a seven-game homestand for the Nuggets, who had their
eight-game winning streak -- the longest in 17 seasons -- snapped by
Anthony watched the end of that one from the bench, a decision
he said he didn't understand. Both he and coach George Karl spent
the next two days insisting it wasn't a big deal. Karl contended
that Anthony had actually been playing well of late, and Anthony
came out against the Bobcats and proved him right.
Working hard to get open in the post and on the perimeter,
Anthony worked within the offense, and didn't cause it to bog down,
the way it has at times when he's on the floor. He was at his
versatile best early in the third quarter, when he made a 4-foot
turnaround, a tip-in off a rebound and forced a shot in over
7-foot-1 Primoz Brezec to help the Nuggets keep their lead in
"Tonight's game, we thought we had a good matchup early" with
Anthony, Karl said. "I just want him to learn to get ... half his
shots in the rhythm of the game, making good reads, and I think
he's getting better at that."
Charlotte pulled to 90-78 late in the third quarter, but Boykins
sandwiched two long jumpers around Elson's dunk to give Denver a
100-79 lead, and the only suspense over the final 10 minutes was
whether Denver would reach the 120 mark. DerMarr Johnson made two
free throws in the last minute to put the Nuggets right on the
The Nuggets played without Kenyon Martin, whose left knee is
hurting, but Marcus Camby came back from his hamstring injury and
finished with seven points and 12 rebounds. Martin said he wasn't
sure if he would play Friday, when the Nuggets host the Clippers.
The Bobcats used their sixth different starting lineup in
March. ... Denver scored 100 points for the third straight time at
home. The Nuggets also had season highs in 3-pointers (10), field
goals made (46) and fast-break points (38). ... After the game,
Anthony hung out with 13-year-old Brendson Johnson, who won an
essay contest inspired by Anthony's autobiography, "It's Just the