OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – Carmelo Anthony didn’t need much prodding to keep attacking the basket. The repeated fouls Denver’s leading scorer kept drawing were all the encouragement necessary.
With Chauncey Billups sidelined with a broken nose and sprained wrist, Anthony took control of Denver’s offense and scored a season-high 39 points while making 17 free throws without a miss in the Nuggets’ 106-89 win over the Golden State Warriors on Monday night.
“I don’t know when’s the last time I saw that many free throws,” said Anthony, who added nine rebounds and five assists. “I just felt like I needed to do a little bit more with (Billups) not being there. I knew I was getting the whistle tonight so I just wanted to be aggressive and try to get to the basket.”
Anthony struggled with his shooting but helped Denver steadily pull away in the fourth quarter after the Warriors cut an 11-point lead to 84-81 with 7:20 remaining. He made two free throws to halt an 8-0 Golden State run then scored nine points over the final four minutes to help secure the win.
The 17 free throws are the most Anthony has had without a miss in his career.
As a team the Nuggets went 22-for-24 at the line compared to 12 of 21 for the Warriors.
“When he’s playing aggressive like that, it just draws a lot of attention to him,” said teammate Aaron Afflalo, who had 14 points and five assists. “It opens up the floor for the other players. So when (defenses) start collapsing in fear of him driving or shooting, there’s opportunity for the rest of the players.”
Al Harrington scored 19 points against his former team while Ty Lawson added 15 for Denver (8-6).
Monta Ellis scored 20 points to lead Golden State, which lost for only the second time in seven home games this season.
Ellis, the Warriors’ leader in points and minutes played, left Sunday’s loss to the Lakers with a hip injury which might have affected his shooting. Ellis was only 7 of 22 from the floor, including 2 of 8 from 3-point range.
“We were missing layups, the ball was going in and out,” Ellis said. “The only thing we can do now is stay focused and stay together.”
Golden State has lost five of six following a 6-2 start
Denver led by 11 early in the fourth quarter before back-to-back 3-pointers by Reggie Williams and Ellis followed by Jeremy Lin’s short bank shot pulled Golden State within 84-81. After the two teams traded free throws, the Nuggets went on a 20-5 run to seal the win.
Denver had lost its previous four games away from home and were only 2-5 on the road before beating Golden State. The Nuggets previous four games were decided by six points or fewer.
“It’s a day-by-day, game-by-game team,” Denver coach George Karl said. “How we’re going to win, I can’t script it but the guys are confident that we can figure it out.”
The Nuggets, already missing Kenyon Martin (knee surgery), were also without Billups. Billups suffered a broken nose and sprained right wrist in Saturday’s 107-103 win over New Jersey but was hopeful of playing against Golden State. Now he’s targeting the end of the week.
Golden State led by six early fell behind 45-42 on Harrington’s third 3-pointer of the second quarter. Harrington, the former Warrior, was booed every time he touched the ball. He had 11 points in the period and Anthony later scored six straight points for the Nuggets.
Ellis missed eight of his first 12 shots, but made a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Golden State a 52-51 halftime lead.
Anthony had 11 points in the third quarter when the Nuggets began to pull away. Chris Andersen, who missed the first 13 games recovering from right knee surgery, added five straight points to push Denver’s lead to 79-71. Andersen finished with seven points.
Notes: Golden State F Brandan Wright missed a second straight game due to a lower back strain. Wright will also skip the team’s three-game road trip and is scheduled to be re-evaluated when the Warriors return next week. … David Lee, out since Nov. 10 with an infection in his left elbow, went through a leg workout Monday and could resume practicing on the court next week. Like Wright, Lee will not accompany the Warriors at the start of their road trip.
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