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Denver humbles defending champs

10/30/2003

DENVER (AP) -- Even after picking up two fouls less than two
minutes into the game and being hounded by one of the NBA's best
defenders, Carmelo Anthony showed he belonged.

Anthony had 12 points and seven rebounds in his NBA debut,
helping lead the Denver Nuggets to an 80-72 win over the San
Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night.

"When people look at us, they are going to notice that we won
our first game," said Anthony, who was limited to 4-for-15
shooting by Bruce Bowen. "They aren't going to look at how many
points I had. I don't care if I only average four points. I will be
happy if we win.

"I was a little anxious in the first half. I picked up the
early fouls. In the second half I kept my composure and we won the
game."

Anthony, the third overall pick in the draft after leading
Syracuse to the NCAA championship as a freshman, sustained a small
cut near his right eye, courtesy of Bowen.

"I think he wanted to make a statement, like, `Hey, this isn't
easy.' I don't know what he got me with. He's a top defender in the
league, and I think I did a decent job."

Bowen said Anthony "is a very talented player. I think as he
gets older in this game he will settle down more and will be able
to do things that other guys do that become Hall of Famers.

"I thought he was a good player in college. I never thought him
coming into the NBA would require a drastic step."

Andre Miller added 16 points, Earl Boykins 13 and Nene 12 for
the Nuggets, who overcame poor shooting to knock off the defending
NBA champions.

Denver shot 29 percent from the field, compared to 27 percent
for the Spurs.

Tim Duncan had 17 points on 7-of-22 shooting and 21 rebounds for
San Antonio, which opened its season Tuesday night with an 83-82
win over Phoenix.

"Despite the fact that it was ugly offensively," Nuggets coach
Jeff Bzdelik said, "it was a great win in front of a great crowd
against a great opponent."

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was most concerned about his
point-guard situation. Tony Parker and Shane Heal are injured, and
Anthony Carter was able to play only 10 minutes because of patella
tendinitis in his left knee.

"It stiffened up on him," Popovich said. "It was bad enough
in the first half where he was dragging his leg and couldn't move
it.

"We didn't have any point guards after that. We'll have to
bring somebody in to make sure we have somebody there when our next
game comes. We can't depend on Carter's knee right now."

Miller's three-point play gave Denver a seemingly comfortable
72-55 lead with 6:04 remaining.

The Spurs responded with a 13-2 run, including a pair of
3-pointers by Manu Ginobili and five points by Duncan, to make it
74-68 with 1:23 left.

They got no closer, however, as Miller, Anthony and Boykins each
hit a pair of free throws in the final 56 seconds.

Marcus Camby had 20 rebounds for Denver, including a club-record
16 in the first half, and his defense was partly responsible for
Duncan's poor shooting.

After a poor-shooting first half for both teams, the Nuggets
took a 39-36 lead. San Antonio shot 29 percent and Denver 30
percent in the half. Duncan shot 2-for-10 in the half, and Denver's
Voshon Lenard was 2-for-11.

The Nuggets opened a 12-4 lead on Lenard's driving layup with
5:50 left in the first quarter, but back-to-back baskets by
Ginobili helped the Spurs make it 20-20 at the end of the period.

Nene hit four straight free throws as Denver used a 7-0 run to
take a 37-31 lead late in the half. San Antonio's Robert Horry made
a three-point play to cut the deficit to one, but Boykins hit a
buzzer-beating jumper.

Denver scored the first seven points of the third quarter,
capped by Miller's three-point play, to take a 46-36 lead. The
Nuggets finished the period with a 63-51 lead, capitalizing on San
Antonio's 19 percent shooting in the quarter.

Game notes
A wildfire south of Denver threatened the home of Nuggets forward Ryan Bowen. He returned home between the morning
shootaround and the game, but was told he didn't need to evacuate.
... San Antonio's field-goal percentage (.268) was a record low for
a Nuggets' opponent. ... Tony Parker, the Spurs' starting point
guard, didn't play because of a sprained left ankle. ... Nikoloz
Tskitishvili returned to the Denver lineup after missing the final
five preseason games with a broken thumb.