Anthony leads decisive second-half run for Nuggets

DENVER (AP) -- In George Karl's eyes, Carmelo Anthony's 37-point performance against Toronto was every bit as impressive as the 81 points Kobe Bryant scored on the Raptors a night earlier.

Maybe a bit more amazing, in fact.

Karl's a big believer that shooting percentage is a better barometer for players than point totals, and Anthony shot a career-best 81.25 percent in leading the Denver Nuggets to their sixth consecutive win, 107-101 on Monday night.

Don't get him wrong, Karl called Kobe "a superman; he's a super-human athlete," but Denver's coach liked watching his own star shoot an efficient 13-of-16 from the floor much more than he enjoyed watching Bryant burn the Raptors, a game he said he turned off after the Los Angeles Lakers took the lead.

"'Melo was incredible -- 13-for-16? Players just don't do that in this league anymore, and he does," Karl said. "I just think it shows that if he makes the jump shot, he's very difficult, if not impossible to cover."

Anthony's previous career-best shooting day was 75 percent on 12-for-16 shooting against Golden State last April.

The Raptors were still smarting a day after surrendering Bryant's 81 points in their 122-104 loss to the Lakers. After watching the game video in the morning, Toronto put its embarrassment behind and gave the Nuggets a good game.

But whether it was Kobe's 81 points or 'Melo's 81 percentage points, it equaled a loss just the same.

"That number won't haunt this club," Jalen Rose said. "They did a nice job of running. They had 36 points on the break. Having played in Denver, I understand how they feed off the altitude. When they get a long rebound, Anthony is taking off. They throw the touchdown pass to him and he's athletic and is a very good finisher."

Kenyon Martin added 25 points and 12 rebounds as the Nuggets improved to 10-2 in January.

"The thing you've got to be exited about in the last two or three weeks in Kenyon's improvement. His consistency and confidence is just growing right in front of us," Karl said.

And Monday night represented the best Martin and 'Melo have played together.

"Hopefully we can keep it going," Martin said.

Anthony had his best shooting night a day after missing 15 of 19 at San Antonio. He also hit 10-of-12 free throws.

"He got a lot of layups," Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said. "I thought when we got back and made them play halfcourt, pass the ball, our defense was pretty good. You can't make up 36 fastbreak points. We got more shots than they did and then they got to the free throw line more because we weren't getting back in transition."

Earl Boykins added 16 points for the Nuggets. Mike James led Toronto with 22 points, Rose had 21 and Chris Bosh scored 18.

The Nuggets trailed 54-52 at halftime, but Anthony hit a jumper and a three-point play before feeding Andre Miller with a shoulder-flip assist to cap an 11-2 run that gave Denver a 63-56 lead the Nuggets would never relinquish.

Toronto faded midway in the fourth quarter, falling behind by 15, even though Anthony was on the bench for much of it -- the kind of break some of the Raptors wished Bryant had taken the night before -- before trimming the lead in the final minutes.

The Nuggets just kept beating the heavy-legged Raptors upcourt.

Maybe giving up 81 to Bryant had taken more out of his team that Mitchell thought.

"I don't know if we were fatigued," he said. "But we told our guys that when you get to halfcourt you've got to turn and look for the ball. I guess altitude kept us from thinking. If we had turned our head we would have gotten hit in the heads a couple of times. So that would have at least a deflection."

Rose said he hoped people will eventually forget it was the Raptors who were on the wrong side of history the night before: "It's kind of like losing the Super Bowl or the championship. In 30, 40 years, when somebody breaks his record, you know, nobody's going to remember who it was against."

Fans at the Pepsi Center kept reminding the Raptors of Bryant's 81 every chance they got.

In the closing minutes, one final heckler hollered "Kobe!" at Rose, who turned and quickly quieted him.

"Plummer!" Rose shot back, reminding Denver's fans of their own nightmarish Sunday, when Jake Plummer turned the ball over four times in the Broncos' 34-17 loss to visiting Pittsburgh in the AFC championship.


Game notes
Karl said he expects C Marcus Camby to be able to play about 25 minutes a game when he returns from a broken finger. Camby hopes to be back on the court this weekend after missing nearly a month.