7:00 PM ET, November 3, 2009
Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
Anthony, Billups lead way for 4-0 Nuggets, who have best start in 24 years
INDIANAPOLIS -- Carmelo Anthony got a little help from his teammates to lift Denver to its best start in 24 years.
Anthony scored 25 points and Chauncey Billups added 24 as the Nuggets beat the Indiana Pacers 111-93 on Tuesday night to improve to 4-0. Nene had 16 points and 13 rebounds and reserve Arron Afflalo added 15 for the Nuggets.
"Everybody stepped up tonight," said Anthony, who was averaging a league-best 38 points coming into the game. He was just 6-for-17 from the field, but made up for it by making 11 of 14 free throws.
• The Nuggets jumped out to a 30-13 lead en route to their 18-point victory, improving to 9-2 in their last 11 games vs. the Pacers.
• The Nuggets were 33 for 41 from the free-throw line.
• The Pacers dropped to 0-3 this season, their first 0-3 start since 1996-97.
-- ESPN Stats & Information
The Nuggets say they have carried momentum from reaching the Western Conference finals last season.
"We should feel good, we shouldn't feel no other way," Anthony said. "It seems like we're picking up where we left off from last year."
Former Denver guard Dahntay Jones led the Pacers (0-3) with 20 points. He made perhaps the strongest statements after the loss, Indiana's third straight by double digits.
"It's very tough to take three losses in a row like this," he said. "We're sick and tired of losing."
Pacers forward Troy Murphy bruised his lower back when he fell hard to the floor in the first quarter and did not return. He was second in the league in rebounding and third in 3-point percentage last season.
"It's kind of stiffened up," he said while sitting in front of his locker. "It's not the most comfortable thing right now, but hopefully, it will feel better tomorrow and I'll be able to go."
Denver made 8 of 15 3-pointers on Tuesday while Indiana made just 3 of 22.
"We had a good defensive feel for the game all night long," Denver coach George Karl said. "Any time you win a game on the road and keep it in double digits, you're doing a lot of good things."
Denver's players said it was important to get a win at the beginning of their six-game road trip, and they felt getting off to a good start would be the key. The Nuggets led 30-13 at the end of the first quarter, even though Anthony shot 1-for-7.
Indiana shot 22 percent in the opening period.
"The first quarter, we didn't make shots that we've made the past couple of years," Indiana coach Jim O'Brien said. "You can't shoot poorly and dig yourself out of a 20-point hole in the first quarter."
The Nuggets led 55-39 at halftime, but Indiana cut Denver's lead to 59-50 on a layup by Jones.
Billups responded with a 3-pointer. Later in the quarter, when the Pacers again started building momentum, Billups hit another three. Anthony followed that with a breakaway dunk to make it 71-55. Anthony and Billups combined for 23 points in the quarter, and Denver led 83-71 at the end of the period.
Denver pulled away in the fourth quarter and led by as many as 25 points. Indiana's only lead was 6-5 in the first quarter.
The Pacers are starting to feel the pressure.
"It's a combination of everything, a little combination of the injuries, the new guys, everything like that," Murphy said. "We've got to figure it out quick or we're going to be in a deep hole, too deep a hole for us to dig ourselves out."
Denver already feels comfortable and has maintained the camaraderie it built last season.
That closeness included Jones, who signed with the Pacers as a free agent in the offseason. Some Denver players joked with him from the bench in the fourth quarter as he shot free throws, yelling out "he's with us" and "he wants to be wearing blue."
"We have a real good aura, a real good feel about what we can be as a team this year," Billups said.
The Pacers will raise a banner celebrating Mel Simon before Friday's game against Washington. The team's co-owner died in September. ... The Pacers and Nuggets played two preseason games in Asia this year. ... Indiana shot 24 percent in the first quarter against Miami on Friday, then 22 percent in the opening quarter on Tuesday. ... Indiana's Mike Dunleavy (knee), Tyler Hansbrough (shin) and Jeff Foster (ankle), all sat out.
INDIANAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 3: Chris Andersen #11 of the Denver Nuggets signs some autographs prior to the Nuggets...(Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||35-82 (.427)||36-91 (.396)|
|3PM-3PA||8-15 (.533)||3-22 (.136)|
|FTM-FTA||33-41 (.805)||18-24 (.750)|
|Fast Break Points||19||22|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||19 (0/0)||28 (0/0)|
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