DENVER -- Carmelo Anthony appreciated the cheers, relieved there weren't any jeers.
Anthony scored 17 points and grabbed six rebounds in his first game since getting arrested on a drunken driving charge, and the Denver Nuggets reached 50 wins for the first time in 20 years with a 120-111 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night.
"It was good. I was just happy to be playing my last game of the regular season here on the home court rather than being on the road," Anthony said. "The only thing I'm focusing on right now is the playoffs. I'm not really worrying about anything else. I'm putting everything behind me."
Allen Iverson would like everyone else to do the same.
"People make mistakes. Nobody's perfect, and I think he handled the situation as good as you can handle it," Iverson said. "We support him. We're right there for him. We understand that people make mistakes. I've been there plenty of times. I had to put incidents behind me and keep going. The whole thing now is knowing that a mistake is only a mistake unless you make it two times."
The Nuggets learned in the first half that Dallas had beaten New Orleans, clinching the seventh seed and relegating Denver to a first-round playoff series with the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers.
Iverson, who led the Nuggets with 21 points, insisted he preferred to face the Lakers, even though Los Angeles beat Denver 3-0 in the season series.
"Everybody knows how big that stage is," Iverson said. "I relish the moment. This is what I play basketball for. This is why I love it so much. The competitive part of me is going to definitely come out. It would have come out regardless who we played or who we played against, but definitely under the bright lights, those are the moments I cherish."
Just like his matchup with Kobe Bryant.
"Let's go. This is what it's all about for me. You can't draw it up any better," Iverson said. "People say he's the best basketball player on the planet, so I'm definitely looking forward to the challenge. Especially with me believing that about myself, so let's go.
"This is what it's about. If you're scared, get a dog."
Even without a chance of moving up from the eighth seed in the rugged Western Conference, the Nuggets were intent on cracking 50 wins for the first time since Doug Moe's 1987-88 team went 54-28.
"It's the benchmark of a great year, and I've just always felt that if you get to 50, you're doing your job at a very high level," coach George Karl said.
The Nuggets' 50-32 record tied for the third-best since the team joined the NBA in 1976, and the 50 wins are the most ever by an eighth-seeded playoff team.
The seven games separating Denver and Los Angeles is the narrowest gap between the top and bottom playoff teams in a full season since the league went to a 16-team playoff format in 1983-84.
Denver's starters all watched the fourth quarter from the bench after taking a 99-84 lead. Kenyon Martin logged the most minutes among the starters, collecting 11 points and 10 rebounds in 24 minutes. Anthony played 21 minutes.
"It started out as a good game, but I think quickly they showed they were the better team and they are playoff bound for a reason," Grizzlies coach Marc Iavaroni said. "We're a developing team."
The crowd was sparse at tip-off thanks to a spring snowstorm and Golden State's loss on Monday night that gave the Nuggets the final playoff spot in the West. With so many empty seats, it was difficult to gauge Anthony's support when the lineups were introduced, but there were no catcalls directed his way during the game, and plenty of cheers.
Anthony was stopped by police after weaving his silver Mercedes-Benz down Interstate 25 early Monday morning. He was arrested after failing a series of sobriety tests roughly six hours after his worst game of the season. Blood tests are expected back by month's end.
The All-Star forward apologized Tuesday, saying he would "man up to my mistake," and acknowledged the bad timing of it all with the Nuggets preparing for the playoffs.
|Problems are always made better by concentrating on work, and 'Melo does that. (Getty Images)|
|Denver (50-32) «||34||33||32||21||120|
|MEM:K. Lowry 22 Pts
MEM:A. Brown 13 Reb
MEM:C. Jacobsen 7 Ast
|DEN:A. Iverson 21 Pts
DEN:K. Martin 10 Reb
DEN:C. Atkins 5 Ast
|Players of the Game|
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|J. Navarro, PG||35||5-20||2-2||4||7||2||16|
|R. Gay, SG||27||4-14||3-3||7||6||2||12|
|H. Warrick, PF||26||8-14||2-2||5||1||2||19|
|M. Conley, PG||23||5-11||0-0||3||6||5||12|
|J. Collins, C||15||0-0||0-0||3||0||2||0|
|K. Lowry, SG||38||8-21||3-4||2||2||3||22|
|A. Brown, SF||33||8-14||3-3||13||1||4||19|
|C. Jacobsen, SG||22||4-6||0-2||5||7||1||8|
|B. Cardinal, PF||21||1-3||0-0||5||1||3||3|
|A. McKie, SG||Did Not Play|
|M. Miller, SF||Did Not Play|
|K. Brown, C||Did Not Play|
|D. Milicic, PF||Did Not Play|
|J. Crittenton, PG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|K. Martin, PF||24||3-8||4-4||10||5||2||11|
|M. Camby, C||23||2-5||0-0||8||1||2||4|
|C. Anthony, SF||21||4-8||7-8||6||4||1||17|
|A. Iverson, SG||20||8-11||4-6||2||2||0||21|
|A. Carter, PG||13||2-2||0-0||2||4||1||4|
|C. Atkins, PG||35||5-17||0-2||3||5||2||11|
|L. Kleiza, SF||30||3-10||6-6||5||2||1||12|
|E. Najera, PF||22||5-8||2-3||4||1||2||12|
|Y. Diawara, SG||18||2-6||0-0||3||1||2||4|
|J. Smith, SG||15||5-9||1-2||0||2||1||13|
|S. Hunter, PF||10||3-5||0-0||6||0||1||6|
|B. Jones, SF||10||2-6||1-1||4||0||4||5|
|Nene, PF||Did Not Play|
|T. Green, PG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|