DENVER â€” Maybe he will be trying to help them win games in the future. On this night, Carmelo Anthony was more than happy to hand the New York Knicks another loss.
“I’m just glad we got the win,” Anthony said after the Denver Nuggets’ 120-118 escape Tuesday night when he scored 26 points.
Said Amare Stoudemire, who led the Knicks with 24 points: “We did a solid job on Carmelo. Pretty much me and him played chess and cancelled each other out.”
Stoudemire would love to be Anthony’s sidekick soon and not his opponent, and he’s been lobbying for a union with the New York native who grew up idolizing former Knicks small forward Bernard King.
Anthony swore it never crossed his mind on this night that he could be playing alongside Stoudemire soon.
“I never thought about that tonight. Never. Not once. Never,” Anthony insisted. “That wasn’t even on my mind throughout the game.”
And he said none of the Knicks lobbied him in their post-game hugs and handshakes for him to join them either via trade this season or next summer, when he’d be the headliner of the 2011 free agent class.
“No, not at all. They’re trying to win, we’re trying to win,” Anthony said. “They competed hard tonight. They fought back. But nobody, no, there wasn’t none of that going on out there. Of course not.”
Anthony referred questions about any trade talk to general manager Masai Ujiri, who hasn’t been speaking publicly since failing to persuade him to sign his three-year, US$65-million contract months ago.
Anthony didn’t have a great game, committing five turnovers and missing 13-of-21 shots. But he came through often enough for the Nuggets to hand the Knicks their sixth straight loss.
Denver led by 16 early but the Knicks made a game of it by trimming a 12-point deficit to start the fourth quarter to 109-107 with 3:07 left on Raymond Felton’s free throw when Anthony was whistled for a technical after tossing his headband when he was tied up by Wilson Chandler while going for a slam dunk.
Anthony was then whistled for a loose-ball foul on the jump, and Chandler sank both foul shots to cap an 11-0 run and tie it at 109.
Chauncey Billups and Ty Lawson hit back-to-back jumpers and the Nuggets settled down.
After Stoudemire’s three-pointer pulled the Knicks to 117-115, Anthony sank one of two free throws with 12 seconds left to put Denver ahead 118-115. Felton dribbled out of bounds, and Anthony again sank one of two foul shots with 9.7 seconds remaining.
Felton’s three-pointer with a second left made it a one-point game and Billups was fouled. He swished his first shot and missed his second high off the rim, the buzzer sounding as the Knicks corralled the rebound.
Al Harrington chipped in 22 points against his former team and rookie Gary Forbes scored 19 as Denver bounced back from a fourth-quarter meltdown in Phoenix one night earlier.
Rookie guard Landry Fields had a big game for New York with 21 points and 17 boards.
Nuggets coach George Karl was asked before the game how his team has handled the trade talk swirling around its superstar that many expect will end up in the Big Apple, where he and TV personality LaLa Vazquez were married over the summer.
“Melo has been very professional, the most professional I’ve ever seen him, more serious than I’ve seen him and he’s playing at an all-star level. We kind of read off of him and he seems to be into the team and wants to win,” Karl said.
“If we didn’t have the commentary that’s going on throughout all types of media outlets, I don’t think we would be thinking anything’s going on. That’s a compliment to Melo for the way he’s handled it.”
Karl said his job, meanwhile, is to convince Anthony that Denver is the best place for him and persuade him to sign the extension that’s been on the table awaiting his signature since the summer.
How’s that working out?
“I don’t know that answer,” Karl said. “I can’t answer that question. My only feeling is the window of that happening is still there. I don’t know how wide the window is; only Melo can answer that. My gut feeling is the window is open, it’s not shut yet. If we keep losing games like we did last night it’ll close.”
So, what would it take for Anthony, who has put his Colorado mansion on the market, to sign the deal and stay in Denver?
“What would it take?” Anthony repeated. “Me and Masai are talking. We got great conversations going back and forth. He understands my options are open.”
Harrington said he couldn’t sleep at night if there were a $65 million extension awaiting his signature.
Anthony said he has no trouble at all.
“I’m good. I sleep good at night. I’m with my family. I sleep good at night,” he said. “It ain’t about the money.”
It’s about family, he said.
“That’s a big decision. I want to make my family happy,” Anthony said. “I want them to be comfortable, whether it’s here, whether it’s somewhere else. If your household ain’t right, then ain’t nothing right.”
With that, Anthony thanked reporters and headed home, knowing he can do this all over again Saturday night when the New Jersey Nets come to town.
Notes: The Knicks said team president Donnie Walsh had successful hip surgery Tuesday morning in Manhattan. … J.R. Smith, who was benched in Phoenix for showing up late to shootaround, played just one minute for Denver.
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