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Oklahoma City at Denver

Carmelo scores 35, Nuggets pull away from Thunder

CBSSports.com wire reports
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DENVER -- Carmelo Anthony sees the New Jersey Nets' pullout of trade talks as a speed bump on his way out of the Mile High City and not necessarily a detour.

The Denver Nuggets All-Star forward said Wednesday night that he still thinks he'll be traded by the Feb. 24 deadline and that he doesn't foresee himself going to a contender simply as a rent-a-player for the final two months of the season.

He also demurred when asked after the Nuggets' 112-107 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder if he still felt staying in Denver long-term was a possibility.

"I'm not answering any more questions about an extension, about being traded," he said. "I'm focused on being here right now. Until anything happens, you guys will see me upstairs in practice, playing hard, doing what I got to do, focusing.

"And, then, when anything happens, all you guys will have a big story to write about."

Anthony scored 35 points, hours after Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov announced he would no longer pursue the All-Star forward in a megadeal that had been the buzz of the NBA for weeks.

After the game, Anthony told the team's TV network while being both cheered and jeered: "It was personal. ... In spite of everything that is going on, I'm still here. ... I'm still a Denver Nugget."

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Despite his dominating performance, Anthony said there was no weight lifted from his shoulders in light of Prokhorov's pulling the plug.

"No. I've still got to deal with the same stuff over and over," Anthony said. "Whatever he felt was the problem, he put an end to it. Whether it was miscommunication or whatever it was, I'm pretty sure he was tired of going through the back and forth or whatever and he just didn't want to deal with it anymore."

Chauncey Billups and Nene each added 16 points for the Nuggets, who grabbed the lead for good early in the fourth quarter of a game that was close all the way. Russell Westbrook recorded his fifth straight double-double with 28 points and 10 assists for the Thunder, and Kevin Durant chipped in 22 points.

Durant was impressed by Anthony's aggression -- it was his first 30-point game since Dec. 14.

"He was clearing his mind," Durant said. "It's a place of refuge, especially with the situation, just come out on the court and just play and let his mind be free."

After months of talks aimed at bringing Anthony from Denver to New Jersey, the Nets' new owner announced that his team was ending the drawn-out trade talks with the Nuggets. Prokhorov said the talks had become too public, taken too long and had hurt his team, so he instructed his team to walk away from the proposed deal that featured as many as 15 players and three teams.

Prokhorov also canceled a planned meeting with Anthony on Thursday and said there was no chance that the trade would be resurrected.

Anthony said he would have liked to sit down with Prokhorov: "Yeah, he's a very interesting man, so for me to just be in the room with him and just have a conversation with him, I would have loved that."

But, he added that he's not disappointed the meeting was canceled.

"I've still got games to play," Anthony said. "I'm not thinking about that."

Hours after Prokhorov's comments, the Nets snapped a six-game skid with a win over Utah. The Nuggets had a much harder time putting away the Thunder, whom they trailed 86-85 after three quarters.

Denver general manager Masai Ujiri declined to answer questions about the Nets' decision to scuttle negotiations on the megadeal, beyond saying the Nuggets have been in talks "with plenty of teams" regarding Anthony and insisting he harbored no ill will toward the Nets.

Nuggets coach George Karl said the latest twist in this saga won't curtail the drama surrounding the Nuggets and Anthony, whose name has been brought up in trade talk ever since he declined to sign a three-year, $65 million extension last summer.

"It's going to be a huge story ... until there's a final chapter written on it," Karl insisted.

The Nets' entire courtship of Anthony might have been an exercise in futility, because Anthony never indicated whether or not he would sign his extension to facilitate a trade to New Jersey.

Asked if he'd ever consider the Nets down the road, Anthony said: "Obviously, that's a wrap. He canceled the meeting. I don't think he wanted anything to do with this situation right now. And I understand. It's a lot for everybody. So, he's got to focus on his team and his future. So, I respect that."

Tired of talking about the trade that didn't happen, Anthony tried to turn the focus onto basketball.

"We did a great job on Kevin Durant, though, just making him see two people out there," he said.

Anthony also insisted he's not bothered by getting booed at home and said the jeers weren't entirely unexpected even after a big win.

"At this point," Anthony said, "I don't expect any cheers."

Billups' name was dragged into the talks on the megadeal just two years after he got his wish and was traded by Detroit to his hometown Nuggets. But he wasn't exactly relieved Wednesday night.

"Not really. We've still got a month away before the trade deadline is over. I'm sure it'll be something else," Billups said. "We're not out of the woods yet."

There were reports Wednesday that Anthony's representatives had let the Nuggets know that the 26-year-old forward was interested in playing for the Chicago Bulls. Houston and the New York Knicks also have been mentioned in trade talks involving Anthony, who had long maintained staying put was an option, too.

But he declined the chance to reiterate that stance Wednesday night.

"I've always said I would be here, being a professional, playing basketball, doing what I got to do," Anthony said, growing ever more irritated. "So, until something happens -- if something happens -- then you guys will be looking for me after practice every day, trying to get the same answers. Thank you."

Notes

  • Nuggets F Chris "Birdman" Andersen (knee, back) will likely miss Friday night's game against the Lakers.
  • The Thunder is just 5-for-37 behind the arc over its last two games.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Carmelo Anthony dunks for two of his 35 points against the Thunder as the Nuggets win. (AP)
Carmelo Anthony dunks for two of his 35 points against the Thunder as the Nuggets win. (AP)

Scoreboard
Oklahoma City (27-15)24313121107
Denver (24-17) «27283027112
OKC:R. Westbrook 28 Pts
OKC:N. Collison 9 Reb
OKC:R. Westbrook 10 Ast
DEN:C. Anthony 35 Pts
DEN:K. Martin 11 Reb
DEN:C. Billups 6 Ast
Players of the Game
Oklahoma CityDenver

Russell Westbrook

Carmelo Anthony
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
283103571
Oklahoma City
K. Durant, SF406-1810-1042322
R. Westbrook, PG368-1612-14310228
J. Green, PF315-120-052511
T. Sefolosha, SF282-50-08235
N. Krstic, C184-60-01038
N. Collison, PF293-40-09046
S. Ibaka, PF297-102-291216
J. Harden, SG172-50-26124
E. Maynor, PG123-70-11417
M. Peterson, SGDid Not Play
R. Ivey, PGDid Not Play
D. Cook, SGDid Not Play
D. White, PFDid Not Play
B. Mullens, CDid Not Play
C. Aldrich, CDid Not Play
Totals 40-8324-29462225107
 48.2%82.8% 
Denver
C. Anthony, SF3812-2511-1471335
A. Afflalo, SG372-62-25336
Nene, C347-82-562516
C. Billups, PG327-111-236016
K. Martin, PF243-91-211327
J. Smith, SG231-66-62428
A. Harrington, PF213-70-02029
T. Lawson, PG185-71-233211
M. Ely, C71-10-00012
G. Forbes, SF61-20-00022
A. Carter, PGDid Not Play
C. Andersen, PFDid Not Play
R. Balkman, SFDid Not Play
S. Williams, PFDid Not Play
Totals 42-8224-33392222112
 51.2%72.7% 
Other Games
Pho 106 Final
Cle 98
Utah 95 Final
NJ 103
Phi 98 Final
Orl 99
Det 82 Final
Bos 86
Mem 102 Final
NO 103
Wash 87 Final
Mil 100
NY 89 Final
Hou 104
Tor 95 Final
SA 104
LAL 100 Final
Dal 109
Port 94 Final
Sac 90
Ind 108 Final
GS 110
Min 111 Final
LAC 126