Monday night in Newark, New Jersey, Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets visited a team that lately has stepped up to show some pride. Despite 37 from Melo, the Nets were hot from the start and came away with a 115-99 win.
New Jersey led by 10 after the first quarter and 13 at halftime. The Nuggets stepped up in the third, but the Nets controlled the fourth for a satisfying win.
Shooting 53.2 percent from the field, winning the rebounding battle 38-27 and the assists category 30-20, the Nets were led by Brook Lopez, who shot 11-of-18 for 27 points (but just four rebounds). Travis Outlaw was on fire in the first half and finished the game with 21. Anthony Morrow was a perfect 6-of-6 off the bench for 18 points. Reserve Kris Humphries scored 15. And starting point guard Devin Harris only scored nine but dished an amazing 18 assists.
The Nuggets got 37 points (12-of-22) from Carmelo Anthony, but he didn’t receive enough help. Chauncey Billups scored 17 but had more turnovers (7) than assists (5). Nene scored 16 but only grabbed three rebounds. Off the bench, J.R. Smith scored 10.
The real story of this game, though, wasn’t the game. It was Carmelo Anthony seemingly no longer being a possibility for the Nets in trade. His quotes after the game were pretty safe; Melo will not say that he’s leaving the Nuggets. Nor that he’d reject the Nets extension desire should they trade for him. He basically made it clear that his future is wide open and still being decided. Melo did want everyone to know that he does consider Denver one of his homes, and he’s perfectly happy there.
But those in the know still consider the Knicks as the most likely destination for Anthony, likely as a free agent this summer, if not in trade before the February deadline.
The Nets can be proud of their win yesterday. And with Melo out of town, it’ll be easier to focus on the actual players on the team, rather than what the roster may someday look like.