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Monday, Jan. 3, 2011

Nuggets rout Kings in Anthony's return

DENVER (AP) Carmelo Anthony was rusty in his return to the Denver lineup after a two-week absence following the death of his sister, and his teammates picked up the slack in the Nuggets' 104-86 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night.

News photo
Reverse layup: Washington's Andray Blatche scores in front of New Orleans' Emeka Okafor in the first half on Saturday night. The Hornets beat the Wizards 92-81. AP PHOTO

Anthony missed 15 of his first 18 shots and finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds in 31 minutes.

Anthony hadn't played since Dec. 18, missing five games following the death of Michelle Anthony, a 38-year-old mother of four who died Dec. 21. The funeral was Monday in Baltimore.

After returning to practice Friday, Anthony said his sister used to call him after every game, "telling me what I did wrong, telling me what I did good and giving me some encouragement."

The Nuggets went 2-3 in his absence, winning their last two, against Portland and Minnesota.

Chauncey Billups led Denver with 22 points and Nene had 16 points and 14 rebounds.

Anthony was just 1-for-11 in the first half, his only bucket a putback layup with 3:03 left in the first quarter. He finished 6-for-22 from the floor but made all four of his free throws.

While Anthony was struggling, Nene was surprising.

Denver coach George Karl said before tipoff that his big man's bothersome lower back and tender right hamstring might limit him to a cameo appearance: "Don't be surprised if he pulls the plug on himself early," Karl conceded.

Instead, Nene had 16 points and six rebounds in 18 first-half minutes to help the Nuggets take a 51-39 lead.

Heat 114, Warriors 107

In Miami, LeBron James had 25 points and 10 assists, Dwyane Wade also scored 25 points and the Heat overcame a 20-point deficit to beat Golden State for their 17th victory in 18 games.

Chris Bosh added 20 points and 11 rebounds to help Miami pull into a virtual tie with Boston atop the Eastern Conference. The Celtics lead by .031 percentage points, but the teams are tied in the games-back column.

Spurs 101, Thunder 74

In San Antonio, Tim Duncan scored 21 points, George Hill had 16 and the NBA-best Spurs won their fourth in a row, handing Oklahoma City its most-lopsided loss of the season.

Coming off wins over the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas, the Spurs again beat one of the West's top teams to improve to 29-4 — one of the 10 best starts in NBA history. San Antonio has won 14 of 15.

Timberwolves 103, Nets 88

In Minneapolis, Kevin Love had 23 points and 10 rebounds to lead the T-Wolves.

Hornets 92, Wizards 81

In Washington, Trevor Ariza scored a season-high 22 points, Emeka Okafor had 17 points and a season-high 15 rebounds and Chris Paul added 13 points, 11 assists and seven steals for New Orleans.

Bucks 99, Mavericks 87

In Milwaukee, Earl Boykins returned after a one-game suspension to score a season-high 26 points and the Bucks beat injury-depleted Dallas.

Missing Dirk Nowitzki for the third consecutive game because of a sprained right knee and Shawn Marion with a thigh injury, the Mavericks suffered another blow when Caron Butler was hurt. He stayed on the floor for a couple of minutes before limping off the court to the locker room with 2:47 left in the first quarter.

Jazz 98, Grizzlies 92

In Salt Lake City, Paul Millsap scored 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting and Deron Williams had 10 points in the fourth quarter to help short-handed Utah beat Memphis.

Bulls 100, Cavaliers 91

In Chicago, Derrick Rose had 28 points and 11 assists and the Bulls won for the 13th time in 15 games.

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