Carmelo Anthony marked his return from a two-week injury lay-off with 24 points to spark the Denver Nuggets to a 105-94 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night. The NBA's leading scorer played 34 minutes in his first appearance since missing five games because of a knee injury suffered on December 28. He showed little sign of rust, making two three-pointers in a row in the fourth quarter which helped seal the victory.
"I felt pretty good. Early in the game, by me not playing five-on-five basketball, it was hard to figure what I can do and what I can't do," he said. "I was trying to ease my way into the game. Once I was able to do that it felt pretty good." Chauncey Billups added 18 points and 10 assists for the Nuggets (24-14), who stretched an eight-point half-time lead to an 85-70 advantage by the end of the third.
Minnesota (8-31) had defeated Denver (24-14) in their last meeting on November 29 but could not repeat the feat despite 25 points from Corey Brewer as well as 22 and 15 rebounds from Al Jefferson. "They definitely did not want to lose to us again on their home court," said Minnesota's Kevin Love, who had 20 points and 14 rebounds. "They came out and kind of put us out in that third quarter. We fell too far behind in the fourth and we just couldn't pull it out."
Utah recorded a first win over Miami in more than two years as Deron Williams had 23 points and 10 assists and Carlos Boozer finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds as the Jazz beat the Heat 118-89. The Indiana Pacers recorded their first victory since Danny Granger returned from a heel injury as they beat the Toronto Raptors 105-101. Granger, who had been out for a month, scored 23 points as the Pacers won for the first time in three games.
Joe Johnson scored 36 points, including five three pointers, as the Atlanta Hawks defeated the Boston Celtics 102-96 on the road. The Detroit Pistons suffered a 13th consecutive loss as Luol Deng scored 27 points for the Chicago Bulls. The home side won 120-87 as the Pistons equalled their previous worst losing run at the end of the 1993/94 season. "It's a tough league. Nobody is going to feel sorry for you," said Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich
Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Bucks guard Michael Redd will miss the remainder of the season after tearing ligaments in his left knee during Sunday's defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers Redd suffered an identical injury to the same knee a little less than a year ago. * With agencies