Nuggets silence Sonics, add to division lead

DENVER (AP) -- Carmelo Anthony is having a memorable March.

Anthony scored 31 points and moved the Nuggets closer to winning
the Northwest Division title with a 117-104 victory over the
Seattle SuperSonics on Friday night.

He is averaging nearly 30 points in 13 March games and shooting
56 percent.

"I'm more concerned by the way we came out sluggish," said
Anthony, who has scored 96 points in three games against the Sonics
this season. "It was a good win."

The win was the third straight for Denver and reduced its magic
number to seven games. Any combination of seven Denver wins and
Utah losses clinches the title.

Of more interest to the Nuggets was the career-high 22 points
provided by Reggie Evans. Evans, acquired from Seattle in a Feb. 23
four-team trade to provide energy off the bench did just that.

"I thought Reggie really kept us in the game in the first
half," Denver coach George Karl said. "He might have been the MVP
of the game."

Evans has never said anything about his former team or teammates
since the trade. He was quiet after every basket and never looked
toward the Seattle bench.

"I didn't say anything because there's love between me and my
former teammates," Evans said. "It wasn't anything personal, what
all went down. I'm glad they traded me."

Luke Ridnour led Seattle with 18 points and eight assists. Ray
Allen had only 14 points on 6-for-19 shooting for Sonics.

"We didn't play. None of us," Seattle coach Bob Hill said.
"As bad as we played, Denver should have beaten us by 50."

Allen's jumper and his lone 3-pointer got Seattle as close as
91-84 with 10:04 left in the fourth quarter, but DerMarr Johnson
sank two straight 3-pointers to put the Nuggets back up 97-84. The
Sonics trailed by eight, but Johnson's layup off a feed from
Anthony made it 107-97.

Four different Sonics players missed 3-pointers on their next
possession. Anthony answered with a layup and Andre Miller sank a
3-pointer from the left wing to give Denver some breathing room and
112-97 cushion with 3:07 left.

The Sonics stayed close to Denver with Chris Wilcox's dunk tying
the game at 59 early in the third quarter. The Nuggets went on a
17-4 run, seven coming from Anthony and six from Ruben Patterson to
pull ahead 76-63. Seattle was only 1-for-10 shots in the six-minute
stretch that ended with 4:45 left in the third quarter.

Two free throws by Mike Wilks for Seattle in the last second of
the third quarter closed the gap to 89-79. Anthony had 11 points on
3-for-10 shooting in the period.

Evans had 16 points by halftime, 11 in the second quarter when
the Nuggets built the 57-55 lead they held at the break. Allen had
five points on 2-for-9 shooting, but didn't score until converting
a free throw with 8:37 left in the second quarter.

"Tonight, I was just off," Allen said. "I can't make excuses.
I didn't make shots."<
^Notes@: Seattle is 14-24 under Bob Hill, who was named head coach
on Jan. 3. ... The teams had split the previous two meetings with
each winning on the other team's home court. ... Allen is 17-for-34
on 3-pointers against Denver this year. ... Denver's Kenyon Martin
sat out with a sore left knee.