Anthony Lights Up Wizards
Saturday, February 9, 2008; 3:10 AM
DENVER, Feb. 8 -- The scoring came so easily for Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets on Friday night, there were several possessions when it appeared that a Denver player passed on taking an easy shot because a teammate had an even better one.
The final result was a huge night for Anthony, who scored a career-high 49 points on 19-of-25 shooting, and a 111-100 loss for the short-handed Washington Wizards.
Anthony capped his night by sinking a three-pointer over Wizards rookie Dominic McGuire with one minute 24 seconds remaining, and the crowd at Denver's Pepsi Center exploded with cheers because the shot pushed Anthony past his previous career high of 45 points.
"The end part of that game I felt was a little bit on the classless side," Coach Eddie Jordan said after his team's sixth straight defeat. "But we all have our ways and when you get your butt kicked, the other team can do whatever it wants to do. But I thought it was very classless to close a game out like that. I have my opinion; I can say what I want to say. That's what I thought it was."
It is the Wizards' longest losing streak since they lost six straight between April 3 and April 11 last season. The common factor in both skids has been the absence of Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler. Those two were out with injuries late last season and were out again Friday night. Butler missed his second straight game with a strained left hip flexor and is listed as day-to-day, but said following the game that he does not want to return until the injury is fully healed.
The Wizards (24-25) dropped below .500 for the first time since they were 9-10 following a home loss on Dec. 7 to Phoenix, where Washington's four-game road trip will continue on Sunday night.
Antawn Jamison led the Wizards with 21 points and rookie Nick Young added 19, but Washington shot 44.9 percent. Denver (30-19), meanwhile, shot 56.4 percent and finished with a 24-3 edge in fast-break points.
Anthony, who is from Baltimore and occasionally works out at a downtown Washington health club during the summer, scored 13 of Denver's first 15 points as the Nuggets built a 15-7 lead.
The Wizards trailed 30-16 at the end of the first quarter but briefly made the game competitive with a 13-6 push that spanned the end of the second quarter and the start of the third.
However, after an Andray Blatche tip-in drew the Wizards within 60-56 with 9 minutes 26 seconds left in the third, the Nuggets responded by increasing their energy defensively and unleashing a barrage of dunks, layups and open jump shots.
Anthony reached the 40-point mark with a three-pointer near the end of the third quarter that pushed Denver's lead to 88-72. His 49 points were the most scored by a Washington opponent this season.
Wizards point guard Antonio Daniels, who made his 33rd start in place of Arenas, left the game in the first quarter with what he called bone spurs in this right ankle and did not return. Daniels said the ankle has been a problem for several weeks and could be the result of him overcompensating while playing on a sore right knee.