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Nuggets top Bobcats in Anthony's return

Jan 31, 2009 - 5:42 AM DENVER (Ticker) -- A well-balanced attack from his teammates allowed Carmelo Anthony to ease back into things in his first action in nearly a month.

Anthony was one of five players in double figures, scoring 19 points in his return from a 10-game absence to help the Denver Nuggets defeat the Charlotte Bobcats, 110-99, on Friday.

Nene recorded a double-double with 22 points and 12 rebounds and Linas Kleiza added 21 points off the bench for the Nuggets, who won for the fourth time in five games.

Raja Bell scored a season-high 27 points to lead the Bobcats, who have lost three of their first four during a difficult five-game road swing. Charlotte concludes the trip Monday in Utah.

"We settled for a lot of jumpshots and we didn't get to the free-throw line, we tried, we weren't as good as them, they were great tonight," Charlotte coach Larry Brown said.

A two-time All-Star, Anthony had been out since suffering a non-displaced third metacarpal fracture on his right hand against the Indiana Pacers on January 5. He made 5-of-12 from the field and 9-of-11 from the free-throw line in just under 30 minutes as Denver led nearly throughout.

"I thought I was going to be a little winded but actually I was pretty good out there," Anthony said.

Anthony made his presence known early, scoring seven points during a 13-0 run in the first quarter. Denver never trailed after that, starting the second quarter on 14-5 spurt to open a double-digit lead it would not surrender.

"I thought early on he played well but as the game went on I thought he showed a little rust," Denver coach George Karl said. "I think anytime you come back from injury there is a comfort zone that you have to recoup, and a comfort with the team that you have to get back a little bit."

The Bobcats have followed a damaging double-overtime win over the Lakers with back-to-back double-digit losses to Portland and Denver. In the win over Los Angeles, leading-scorer Gerald Wallace suffered a partially collapsed lung and fractured rib on a hard foul by Andrew Bynum.

Wallace was released from a Los Angeles hospital on Friday, but he still must get clearance from a cardio-thoracic surgeon before flying, which could come as early as Monday.

"The bench, we try to bring a lot of energy and sometimes shots don't go in, tonight they went in," Kleiza said.

Kleiza scored eight points during a 33-point second quarter for Denver, which shot 55 percent (40-of-73) from the field and assisted on 28 of its 40 field goals.

Chauncey Billups had 12 points and six assists and reserve J.R. Smith added 10 and four.

"You know what is indicative of their team, late in the game, they are up like 13 and (Anthony) Carter dives 15 feet for a loose ball and we try to pick it up, and I thought that was all night," Brown said.

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