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News » Nuggets-Thunder Preview 2009-02-04

Nuggets-Thunder Preview 2009-02-04

Nuggets-Thunder Preview 2009-02-04
Carmelo Anthony is healthy again and back on his game. The Denver Nuggets will need their star forward playing well, as they won't play at home again for nearly three weeks.

Anthony and the Nuggets begin their longest road trip of the season Wednesday night when they visit the improving Oklahoma City Thunder.

Northwest Division-leading Denver (32-16) plays its next eight games on the road, where it is a pedestrian 12-10 compared with a 20-6 mark on its home floor. The Nuggets have won their last two games - both at home - including a 104-96 victory over San Antonio on Tuesday.

Anthony went 10-for-17 from the field and scored 35 points on Tuesday in his second game since returning from a fractured right hand. However, the Nuggets struggled to hold off a Spurs team that was playing without Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.

"We were fortunate," Denver coach George Karl said. "We still have a tendency in messing around with the game.

"It's kind of come back in the last couple of weeks. We've still won most of the games but we should have attacked this game with a professional attitude and an intensity, and probably should have gotten the game over by the fourth quarter."

All-Star Chauncey Billups scored four points against the Spurs before leaving in the second quarter with a sprained right ankle. He did not return, but X-rays were negative and he could play on Wednesday.

Kenyon Martin also could be back in the lineup after sitting Tuesday with tonsillitis and strep throat.

"When I saw (Kenyon) this afternoon, about six o'clock he had a 103 degree temperature," Karl said. "There's a chance (he'll play). I think Kenyon will understand, after watching us play tonight, we need him."

The Nuggets needed everything Anthony could give them when they visited Oklahoma City (11-37) on Jan. 2. He finished with 31 points and nine rebounds, and hit a 3-pointer with 0.1 seconds remaining to give Denver a 122-120 victory.

The 122 points were the most given up this season by the Thunder, who yielded that number again Sunday in a 122-118 overtime loss at Sacramento to end a winless two-game trip. Kevin Durant scored 33 points in the defeat, while rookie point guard Russell Westbrook hit 20 of 22 free-throw attempts en route to a season-high 34 points.

"We had an incredible offensive performance, but that means nothing if we don't go down there and stop them from scoring," coach Scott Brooks said.

Oklahoma City has played improved ball since last month's loss to the Nuggets, going 7-7. The Thunder have also won four of their last five home games.

Westbrook had 14 points and five assists in the Jan. 2 matchup. Durant scored a game-high 33, including an apparent game-winning 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds left before Anthony hit his decisive shot.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: February 4, 2009


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