If Carmelo Anthony is out of Denver, as has been rumored, he is making the most of his time there.
The Nuggets's forward, in his second game back after missing five games after the death of his sister, racked up 33 points against the Houston Rockets Monday. He paced the Nuggets to a 113-106 win, the team's fourth straight victory.
"I was just trying to be aggressive and get to the rack," said Anthony, who had 11 rebounds and made 13 of 14 free throws to help the Nuggets fend off the Rockets with his eighth game of 30 or more points this season. "Sometimes they called it, sometimes they didn't. You know, when you shoot 14 free throws it's hard for them to call every time you get fouled. They're going to miss some calls. But that is one of the strengths of my game, getting to the free throw line, and tonight I was effective at that."
Houston's Shane Battier said the free throws shot by the Nuggets — they made 34 of 40 attempts to 15 of 21 for the Rockets — was the difference in a tight game.
"We didn't do a very good job of keeping him off the line," Battier said. "It's tough to play on the road and overcome the 40 free throws they had as team. We just have to do a better job on them without fouling them."
Anthony has been in the middle of trade speculations for months. Unnamed sources have said that Anthony, who is half Puerto Rican, wants to play for an eastern team, perhaps the New York Knicks or the New Jersey Nets, who are Brooklyn-bound.
On Monday night, other Nuggets chipped in, too. Nene added 16 points and 11 rebounds and Arron Afflalo scored 15 points for Denver.
The Nuggets put up only eight shots from beyond the arc and made a season-low number of three-point shots, relying on medium and short-range range jumpers and lay-ups to outscore the Rockets 46-28 in the paint and also beat them at the line.
"We're an attack team, attacking all the time; guys putting on the deck and trying to get to the basket," said Denver's Chauncey Billups, who had six of his 13 points on free throws. "That's kind of how we win, getting to the free throw line more than anyone else."
Houston, meanwhile, was led by Luis Scola with 24 points. Kyle Lowry had 21 points and Brad Miller had 11 rebounds and 10 points. The Rockets took 30 shots from 3-point range, one fewer than their season high, and made 13, topped by four for Lowry.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.