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Carmelo flourishes, Marbury sits as Nuggets prevail

DENVER (AP) -- Larry Brown couldn't come up with the right plan
for either Denver's best player or his own Friday night.

Carmelo Anthony sliced through single coverage en route to 25
points for the Nuggets, while Brown left Knicks guard Stephon
Marbury watching helplessly from the bench over the final 6Ā½
minutes of Denver's 95-86 win over New York.

Marbury, who said he was upset with his role in Brown's system
after a four-point night in a loss to the Lakers earlier this week,
didn't see his role change much in this one. He stayed at point
guard and finished with nine points and nine assists, while
spending the end of the game on the bench with a towel draped over
his head.

A good strategic decision? Or simply a reminder from Brown of
who is really in charge in this, his first season with the Knicks?
That debate will begin shortly in the Big Apple. For his part,
Marbury took this latest setback better than the one in Los
Angeles.

"Whatever Coach thinks it will take for us to win, I'll do,"
Marbury said. "I'm cool with it. I wasn't surprised to come out
when I did."

Channing Frye had 22 points and eight rebounds points for the
Knicks, who finished their Western trip 2-4, which might not be
considered bad were it not for the recent machinations with
Marbury.

Brown explained his decision to bench the guard late, saying
simply, "I just wanted to get us back in the game."

Marcus Camby had 20 points and 13 rebounds for the Nuggets, who
reached the .500 mark for the first time this season.

Anthony has enjoyed his two biggest scoring nights in the last
two games, this one coming after a 31-point game in a win Wednesday
against the Hornets.

The third quarter was the turning point, and Brown's decision
not to double cover him made a big difference.

Running the floor and creating contact under the basket as well
as he has all season, 'Melo scored 12 points in the third quarter --
including six off free throws -- to help Denver turn a one-point
deficit into a double-digit lead.

He was single covered much of the night by Malik Rose and David
Lee. Neither were very successful.

"It was the first time I hadn't seen double- and
triple-teams," Anthony said. "I've got to take advantage when I
get teams like that and get games like that. I don't get to play
straight-up like that very much."

Brown coached opposite Nuggets assistant Doug Moe, his best
buddy and former assistant with the Nuggets, for the first time
since 1992. Neither man said he was looking forward to the meeting
because it was hard to root against such a good friend.

After a nice pregame chat at center court, Moe took his seat
beside George Karl and Brown began coaching his heart out -- coaxing
his young players, cajoling official Rodney Mott and trying his
hardest to squeak out a win in a place where he wasn't expected to
get one.

The Knicks led for much of the first half. Then, Anthony went
off. Brown defended his decision to play Denver's best player
one-on-one.

"We did a pretty good job on Carmelo," he said.

The Nuggets won despite playing without Kenyon Martin, who has
missed all or most of the last four games with a tender knee.
Voshon Lenard, supposedly Denver's biggest 3-point threat, never
left the bench -- coach's decision -- as Karl continued giving
minutes to Earl Watson.

Denver's only major offseason acquisition finished with four
points over 17 minutes and the Nuggets, the league's worst
3-point-shooting team, made only one from long range, giving them a
total of two over the last three games.

Marbury, meanwhile, sat stoically over the final minutes,
watching as the Knicks tried to trim their deficit to single
digits.

New York did get it to 93-86 with 57 seconds left, but Anthony
followed by getting open in the post and getting his final two
points on a goaltending call. Thus ended the third straight game
Marbury has been held to 10 points or less.

"It is frustrating to lose, period," Marbury said. "I think
we probably took a step backward tonight, but I think things will
get better."

Game notes
Knicks F Matt Barnes will have an MRI on his foot when the
team returns to New York this weekend. ... Trevor Ariza played a
grand total of 1 second in the first half for the Knicks. ...
Camby, a former Knick, played in his 500th career game.