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Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011

Anthony leads Nuggets to victory over Pacers

DENVER (AP) Carmelo Anthony won over the home crowd just before hitting the road.

News photo
No contest: Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony is guarded by Pacers forward Paul George on Sunday in Denver. AP PHOTO

Anthony gave the fans at the Pepsi Center nothing to boo about Sunday night, scoring 36 points in the Denver Nuggets' 121-107 victory over the Indiana Pacers, who lost their fifth straight.

Anthony had been subjected to jeers by the home crowd as trade talk intensified last week, but on this night, the Denver fans showed him plenty of love, especially when he was raining 3s from all over the court as he put on a spectacular 23-point show in the third quarter.

Anthony's career-best six 3-pointers all came in the third period as the Nuggets turned a close game into a laugher — a reversal of their game in November when the Pacers made their first 20 shots of the third quarter and rolled to a 144-113 win in Indianapolis.

"We owed that team and we were looking to pay them back," Chauncey Billups said.

"It was embarrassing," agreed Anthony. "Not just for me, but for the team. So, of course, that motivated me tonight."

And when he found himself open over and over, he kept putting up 3-pointers and they kept popping the net, going 6 of 8 in all.

"Man, I mean, they just kept leaving me open," Anthony said. "The 3-ball was falling. I've been looking for the 3-ball for about a month and a-half now."

Consider it located.

Pacers coach Jim O'Brien said he put Paul George on Anthony in the third quarter because Danny Granger already had three fouls. And he figured leaving Melo open so far from the basket was a safe bet, never envisioning that it would backfire so spectacularly.

"Not when he's shooting 25 percent from out there," O'Brien said. "So, that's the shot we're going to give him."

Anthony got a chuckle out of that strategy.

"I'm a streaky shooter, man," he said. "I'm a rhythm shooter."

Anthony, whose previous high was five 3-pointers back in 2003, his rookie season, didn't look as tight as he had earlier in the week when the trade talk was so rampant.

"I don't know if it was the trade rumors slowing down (but) he was making a lot of shots," Tyler Hansbrough said. "He had some open looks and made the shots. He is Carmelo Anthony and he's going to make shots."

Nene added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Nuggets. Hansbrough had 27 points and 10 rebounds for Indiana.

After a chaotic week in which the New Jersey Nets scuttled talks on a proposed blockbuster trade for Anthony, the weekend was quiet in Denver with no new reports, rumors or revelations in this Melo Drama that began last summer when the All-Star forward refused to sign a $65 million extension through 2014-15.

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