Published January 13, 2015
New York Knicks All-Star Carmelo Anthony returns to where his career started when he leads his team into Denver Wednesday night to face the surging Nuggets at the Pepsi Center.
Anthony was selected third overall in the 2003 NBA Draft by the Nuggets and forced his way out of the Rocky Mountains in a blockbuster trade two years ago. Anthony has faced his former team before, but not in Denver.
"I grew up here, I mean, sort of to say. This is where I started my career," Anthony said after Tuesday's practice. "I was 18, 19 years old when I came here. This city grew with me, I grew with the city. We had a lot of good times here in Denver, as a team, as a community. And then it came to a point where we had to split ways."
Due to the abbreviated 2011-12 season, the Knicks never played in Denver.
The 6-8 forward had missed three straight games with a balky knee and returned to action in Monday's 92-63 loss at Golden State in the opener of a five-game western junket. Anthony had 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Chris Copeland scored a team-high 15 points off the bench. Raymond Felton was the only other Knick with double-digit scoring (10 points).
"The ball got stuck a lot," New York center Tyson Chandler said. "We didn't have much ball movement. We didn't have too many guys get into a rhythm. We had to force shots tonight and we missed them."
New York, which is second in the East standings and had won six of eight games, owns a 16-13 record away from home and will also visit the Blazers, Clippers and Jazz on the road trip.
The Knicks will face a fast Nuggets team in the high altitude of the Rockies, and need to be well rested for this one.
Denver has ripped off nine straight wins and is unbeaten in the past 13 games at the Pepsi Center, where it is 28-3 this season.
The Nuggets remained in the win column with Monday's 108-93 triumph at Phoenix as Kosta Koufos scored a career-high 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Corey Brewer came off the bench to score 20 points and Ty Lawson chipped in 19 points and six assists.
"I think we ran more in the second half," Koufos said. "Our guards did a great job of penetrating the lane and dishing off and we give them credit for that and that's why we're so good this year, because our guards are so fast and they can penetrate."
The Nuggets have topped 100 points in 23 of their last 24 games and scored 74 points in the paint compared to just 32 for the Suns.
Denver is fifth in the West standings and will also host Memphis on this quick homestand. The Nuggets dropped a 112-106 decision to the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 9 this season, but have won 10 of the previous 15 matchups between the teams.
New York is winless in four straight trips to the Rockies and 2-9 in the previous 11 visits to Denver.