'Melo injured in Nuggets' loss to Nets

DENVER (AP) -- The Denver Nuggets lost one star soon after the tip-off and another in the closing minutes on their way to a 101-92 defeat at the hands of the much appreciative New Jersey Nets.

Vince Carter scored 25 points and Richard Jefferson 24 as the Nets cruised past the shorthanded Nuggets, who added forward Carmelo Anthony to their ever-growing list of injured players.

Five of Carter's points came at the line with 1:05 left after Kenyon Martin, who scored 26 points against his former team, was whistled for a foul and got slapped with two technicals, resulting in his ejection.

The Nets, who were clinging to a 93-87 lead when Carter went to the line, snapped the Nuggets' six-game winning streak at the Pepsi Center.

"I think this win shows our mental toughness, because it's mind over matter," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "You have Jason Kidd, who played 46 minutes last night and then plays 40 tonight. This is something our guys can look back on and is a good experience for this team. Denver is one of the best home-court teams in the league. Things worked for us. We got fortunate that Carmelo got hurt."

Anthony sprained his left ankle just 1:09 into the game and the Nets built a 55-40 halftime lead and then held off the scrappy, injury-riddled Nuggets on their way to their second straight road win that wrapped up a 2-3 trip and evened their record at 7-7.

"They got J-Kidd. He's not going to let the game just slip away," Martin said. "We dug ourselves a hole that we couldn't get out of."

Anthony drew a foul while driving to the basket and falling hard to the floor. He gingerly walked to the line and sank both free throws before going to the trainers' room. X-rays were negative and an MRI was to be performed Tuesday.

"I don't think it's a long time, but it will probably be a game, maybe two or three," Denver coach George Karl said.

Without Anthony, averaging 21.6 points and six rebounds, the Nuggets fell apart before fighting back in the second half behind Martin and Earl Boykins, who scored 24.

"Mentally, we gave them the first half," Karl said. "The second half had a lot of good stuff to it but you're down 22 points, it's hard."

Kidd added 13 points and Jeff McInnis 12 for New Jersey, which led by as many as 22 points.

"Carmelo is a big part of their team. We played Sacramento without Peja [Stojakovic] and they beat us," Kidd said. "Teams tend to pick it up when a player goes down."

Martin did his best. His basket cut it to 88-80 with 4:54 remaining and his free throw with 3:25 left made it 88-83, but the Nets didn't let the Nuggets get any closer. And soon Martin was done for the night.

He fouled Carter with 1:05 left and both he and Karl drew technical fouls for arguing the call. Carter sank all four foul shots to make it 97-87. Then, during a timeout, Martin drew another technical and was ejected. Carter's free throw made it 98-87.

"I was beginning to feel like I was in the gym by myself out there," Carter said.

Karl suggested Carter flopped twice in the final minutes.

"There's a rumor out of the league office that we're trying to take flopping out of the game, but I don't think that was orchestrated very much in those two calls," Karl said.

Carter said the last call, at least, was legitimate: "That was a foul. The other one I don't remember."

Martin declined to discuss his views: "I got no comment on that, unless you're going to go pay my fine."

Denver never really gave itself a chance, missing 17-of-47 free throws.

"Whew!" Martin said. "That's the game right there."

That, and Anthony's departure.

The Nuggets have been hampered by injuries more than any other NBA team this season.

In training camp they lost Bryon Russell (knee); in the opener, Nene tore an ACL, ending his season. Marcus Camby (right leg) and Martin (surgically repaired knee) have been in and out of the lineup lately, and Francisco Elson (concussion) missed the last game.

Camby had 10 points and 10 rebounds in his return to the lineup Monday night.

Karl lamented Nene's injury in particular while discussing his injury-riddled front court before tip-off.

"When we had Nene, we had this confidence, this toughness, we could afford an injury, we could afford foul trouble, we could afford to play different ways against different styles and we had all the answers for everything," Karl said.

Now he patches together a lineup on game night, never quite sure who will be suited up and who will be in a suit.

Game notes
The Nets have 999 wins in franchise history. ... Denver is 26-7 against the Nets at home.