DENVER – Carmelo Anthony gave the home crowd 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.
Anthony's previous high was five 3-pointers back in 2003, his rookie season.
Nene added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Nuggets, who led by 25 and improved to 20-5 at the Pepsi Center, where they haven't lost consecutive games all season. Tyler Hansbrough had 27 points and 10 rebounds for Indiana, which trailed 59-51 at halftime.
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.
Nuggets coach George Karl acknowledged over the weekend that the drama has weighed on his weary team.
"It's hard. I would say we all realize there's a little bit of heaviness to getting our jobs done. It doesn't mean we can't get it done," Karl said. "Actually, the performance has been pretty first class. The little things and the details of preparation and details of practice, I see a little heaviness to it."
Karl has dealt with the drama by keeping a sense of humor and harboring an amusing atmosphere when he can.
"I think most of the time, we've had some levity and some fun with it. When we've gotten hit in the head a couple of times, we seem like we've communicated through (it) and gotten into a better place," Karl said. "As I told Chauncey and a few of the guys today, 'This is going to be an important stretch. This is an important stretch to solidify to everybody that we're a playoff team and we're going to figure this out."
The Pepsi Center fans let Anthony have it while he was getting interviewed by the team's TV network following his 35-point performance against Oklahoma City on Wednesday night, hours after the Nets pulled out of their latest round of trade talks.
That drew a rebuke from Lakers star Kobe Bryant. Before and after Los Angeles' win here Friday night, Bryant called the boo-birds idiots and suggested they were foolish because the fans' hostile reaction might just push Anthony out of town if he were at all waffling about wanting to play somewhere else.
The Melo Drama hits the road for a five-game Eastern swing starting Tuesday night in Washington before stops in Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia and New Jersey.
The game against the Nets on Jan. 31 will be the first meeting between the teams since Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov called off talks on a blockbuster three-team trade that would have sent Anthony and Chauncey Billups to New Jersey for rookie Derrick Favors and a couple of first-round draft picks.
NOTES: Showing support for his favorite NFL team, Karl sported a Steelers wind-breaker before the game. ... Denver F Chris "Birdman" Andersen missed his fifth straight game while resting his surgically repaired right knee and bothersome lower back. ... Anthony's previous best was five 3-pointers Dec. 26, 2003, against Houston.