Anthony returns to help Denver down SacramentoJan 2, 2011 - 7:23 AM Denver, CO (Sports Network) - Carmelo Anthony returned to the lineup with a double-double, scoring 16 points and grabbing 10 rebounds as the Denver Nuggets won their third straight game with a 104-86 victory over Sacramento.
Chauncey Billups collected a game-high 22 points for Denver, J.R. Smith scored 17 off the bench and Nene chipped in with 16 points and 14 rebounds.
Anthony missed five games in the wake of his sister's death, returned to practice on Friday and played 30 minutes against the Kings, hitting just six of his 22 shots.
Trying to clear his head of other matters before he stepped on the court, Anthony struggled for basketball reasons.
"I just couldn't bury a shot tonight. I couldn't find a rhythm," Anthony said. "My legs weren't there, but I'm glad I got this one out of my system."
Jason Thompson had 17 points and DeMarcus Cousins scored 16 to lead the Kings.
Sacramento returned to the loss column three days after Tyreke Evans' dramatic buzzer-beater from beyond midcourt beat Memphis, 100-98, to snap an eight-game slide.
Denver led by as many as seven points in the first quarter, but the teams were tied 23-23 at the buzzer.
The Nuggets, though, took control of the game with an 18-5 run in the second quarter. Billups capped the burst with four straight points, including a jumper that made it 47-35.
"We could have gotten a lead and made that game very interesting. But instead we took bad shots and were careless with our execution and let them get the lead," said Kings head coach Paul Westphal. "We played catch up the rest of the way."
Denver carried its 12-point lead into the break, 51-39, and never trailed in the second half. The Kings got as close as four points twice in the third quarter, the last time when a Thompson tip-in made it 55-51.
The Nuggets' lead ballooned to double-digits again before Sacramento cut it to 69-60 entering the fourth. Denver scored 13 of the first 15 points in the final quarter to take a 20-point lead and the game was never in doubt.
The Nuggets shot 46 percent from the field...Sacramento shot 42 percent...The Kings scored 18 points off 21 Nuggets turnovers...Denver was 2-3 without Anthony in the lineup.
- SACRAMENTO: 86
Jan 1 11:21 PM
- SACRAMENTO: 60
End of 3rd
Jan 1 10:52 PM
- SACRAMENTO: 39
Jan 1 10:09 PM
- SACRAMENTO: 23
End of 1st
Jan 1 9:35 PM
- SACRAMENTO: 0
1st Quarter - 15:00
Jan 1 9:12 PM
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