Nuggets Rout Houston, Carmelo Chats Today

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

Denver scored more in regulation than any other opponent Houston has faced all season. With their 110 points, the Nuggets showed the Rockets that the running and passing game is not just a crowd-pleasing gimmick but a powerful basketball strategy. The Nuggets had eight players in double-figures as they beat the Rockets 110-100. Every Nugget who scored got at least 10 points. Chris Andersen was the only player to not score, as the Birdman played only 11 minutes and attempted just one field goal. Carmelo Anthony and Marcus Camby got team-high scoring honors with 20 points apiece.

At 2pm MT (4pm ET) today, Carmelo Anthony will chat online. He appears in many of his quotes to be a cocky rookie but really he is probably as nice a guy as anybody else facing the same insecurities and challenges. Here are some pointers for his question-and-answer period today to help him avoid appearing cock-sure and overconfident. Bear in mind he does have teammates and coaches he has to continue to play with.

1) How do you think Cleveland and Denver would be doing right now if you and LeBron James had switched teams?
Bad answer: "Cleveland would have the top seed in the East and Denver would have fewer than 17 wins."
Better answer: "Both teams have had success only partially because of us rookies. Both clubs have made great efforts to get solid coaching and veterans to complement their core players and both are looking to build a franchise for the future."

2) What do you think of coach Jeff Bzdelik? Which of your teammates do you learn the most from?
Bad answer: "I teach them everything. No one can teach me anything. I know it all."
Better answer: "Like everybody else, coach and I have our disagreements but he is a great coach to play for. He gets us playing up-tempo basketball without sacrificing on the defensive end, and he gets the team gelling as a unit. I learn from all of my teammates at every practice and every game. They each do amazing things."

3) Are you the greatest player to ever lace up high-tops?
Bad answer: "Yes I am."
Better answer: "I'm honored to be continuing various traditions and I hope to one day make a mark on the sport. But it all starts and stops with winning. We need to get into the playoffs first."

4) Where would Denver be without you?
Bad answer: "Lost."
Better answer: "There's a great group of guys here. We've really gone all-out to get quality guys at every position. We've got veterans in the backcourt like Jon and Voshon and high-fliers Nene, Marcus, and Francisco in the front court, and we've got Andre, who should be an All-Star, backed up by Earl, who should be Sixth Man. So Denver's a very deep team and it's exciting for me to be able to play such a large role with such talented players."

If the Magic-Larry rivalry is really supposed to crammed down the throats of Carmelo and LeBron, then as the West coast representative, Carmelo should take some lessons from Magic, who never boasted about being the best, or said how everybody fed off of him, or anything like that. He always found sincere things to appreciate about his teammates', and sometimes even competitors', games.

Fans respond to charm and praise of other players. You don't have to be your own biggest pusher to be regarded as a great player. Fans aren't stupid: they know Denver would be nowhere without Carmelo.

But they don't need Carmelo to tell them that.

The Nuggets visit Phoenix to take on the Suns on Wednesday as part of a two-game road trip. Their second game this Friday will be a rematch against Houston. Wednesday's game starts at 8:00pm MT and will be broadcast on Fox Sports Net and NBA League Pass.

Carmelo Anthony will chat online today at 2pm MT (4pm ET). Click hereto get there.

Chris Tomasson ofThe Rocky Mountain News notes: Here's a statistical oddity. The Nuggets have gone 24-29 with their regular starting lineup of Marcus Camby, Nene, Anthony, Lenard and Andre Miller. When one of the five doesn't start (no two have been out of the lineup at the same time), Denver has gone 16-8.

Marc J. Spears ofThe Denver Post notes: The Nuggets will have a team outing Tuesday night, attending the Rockies' season opener at Arizona. The Nuggets play Phoenix on Wednesday night. ... Vandeweghe and other Nuggets personnel scouted Team USA's 99-79 victory Sunday over the World at the Hoop Summit in San Antonio. The game pitting American high school seniors against international teen stars included several draft prospects. "It was a good game," Vandeweghe said. "There were some prospects there." ... While the Nuggets are tied with Utah for eighth place in the Western Conference with Portland half a game behind, they are just 2 1/2 games behind the Houston Rockets (42-34), losers of four straight, for the seventh spot. The Rockets have a favorable schedule ahead with three of their final six games against teams with sub-.500 records. ... The Nuggets took Sunday off and are scheduled to practice this afternoon.

Voshon Lenard
(bruised ribs) has missed four games but the Nuggets are hopeful he will be healed in time for Wednesday's game against Phoenix. He practiced Saturday.Mark Pope(knee) andJeff Trepagnier(ankle) are on the injured list.Chris Andersen(knee) played limited minutes on Friday.


Marc J. Spears ofThe Denver Postwrites: Although Jeff Bzdelik is on the job and in the playoff hunt, rumors continue that he won't be back as the Nuggets' coach next season, and names of potential replacements are starting to surface.NBA sources say Indiana Pacers associate head coach Mike Brown, who was a Nuggets video coordinator and scout, Utah Jazz assistant Phil Johnson and former NBA coach Doc Rivers are on the shortlist of potential candidates.

Adam Schefter interviews Carmelo Anthony in his Know Him From Adamcolumn inThe Denver Post.

Adam Thompson ofThe Denver Postwrites: There's nothing like the open market to prove a point.The Nuggets could have kept small forward Rodney White away from that market for another year if they had taken his $2.48 million option for 2004-05. Instead, White is hoping that he has played himself above that number and that some NBA team will back it up this summer. Asked if his 10.4-point scoring average during the past five games has helped make Denver wish it had exercised the option, White replied, "I would hope they think that already."

Chris Tomasson ofThe Rocky Mountain Newswrites: Carmelo Anthony threw a career-most number of headbands into the stands. But he seemed to be the only Denver Nuggets player frustrated Friday night.The Nuggets took control early and cruised to a 110-100 win against Houston before a sellout crowd of 19,680 at the Pepsi Center. It was Denver's 15th sellout this season, tying a record set in 1995- 96. Twice, a spectator caught one of the headbands belonging to Anthony, who scored 20 points but shot only 5-for-17. But there were plenty of other Nuggets players to pick up the slack.

Chris Tomasson ofThe Rocky Mountain Newswrites: Take a look at Carmelo Anthony. He appears to be one of the most confident players in the NBA. Last week, Anthony issued a guarantee. The rookie forward told Denver Nuggets fans to "get your tickets now" for the playoffs. But Anthony didn't have quite this kind of confidence before the season. In fact, he now reveals he is surprised he has had this much success so soon."I thought that I'd average about 14 points," Anthony said. "But I just started getting used to the game. Once I got used to the game, it was cool." Anthony is averaging a heck of a lot more than 14. He's at 20.9, a shade behind Cleveland's LeBron James' 21.1 for the top rookie average. Denver's success also has surprised Anthony, even though he won a national title last season as a Syracuse freshman. After going 17-65, the Nuggets are 40-37 and tied with Utah for the No. 8 playoff spot in the Western Conference. "Our goal was to double the wins that we had last year," he said. "This is a team that won just 17 games last year. We've turned it around completely. It's like night and day."

Ryan Thorburn ofThe Boulder Daily Camerawrites: While the Nuggets have been counting ping-pong balls for the last decade or so, Jon Barry has been playing meaningful NBA games, making 50 playoff game appearances over his previous 11 seasons in the league.After Denver's 110-100 victory against Houston on Friday night at the Pepsi Center, the veteran shooting guard was asked if these new and improved Nuggets — now 40-37 (.519) a year after winning 17 games — have what it takes to make the franchise's first postseason appearance since 1995. "We're getting there," said Barry... "But there are still a lot of mistakes that we make."