DENVER, Nov. 28 (Ticker) -- Carmelo Anthony was forced into an early exit and the Nuggets couldn't recover without their star.

Anthony sat out most of the game with a sprained left ankle and his teammates couldn't stop Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson as the New Jersey Nets posted a 101-92 triumph over the Nuggets.

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With just 90 seconds elapsed in the game, Anthony had to be helped to the locker room after wrenching his ankle on a drive to the basket. Denver was left vulnerable without its star and leading scorer.

"We dug ourselves a little hole and didn't do a very good job of filling in for Carmelo," said Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin, who scored a season-high 26 points. "We didn't make the plays when we needed to."

Jefferson scored 12 of his 24 points in the first quarter and Carter added 7 of his 25 as the Nets rolled to a 36-21 lead thanks to a blistering 16-of-24 shooting from the floor.

"We had open shots and we knocked them down," Jefferson said. "It isn't like we did anything magical. We're getting better. Nobody was ever worried or stressing, we're just trying to get better."

New Jersey, which blew an 18-point lead against the Lakers on Sunday before winning in overtime, led by as many as 22 on Monday and took a 55-40 advantage into the half.

"The first quarter was probably one of our best quarters we've played," Nets point guard Jason Kidd said. "We had an emotional win in L.A. and I think it carried over into the first quarter."

Denver chipped away in the second half and cut the deficit to 93-87 with 1:21 left. Things unravelled 16 seconds later when Martin, who began his career with New Jersey before joining the Nuggets last season, was whistled for fouling Carter. Karl was given a technical foul for protesting the call and Martin received a technical shortly thereafter.

Carter buried the four resulting free throws and, after Denver called timeout, Martin received a second technical and was ejected. Carter made that free throw to seal the win for New Jersey in the finale of its five-game road trip.

"I had to take my time out there," Carter said. "It felt like I was in the gym just shooting free throws by myself. I'm just glad that I made all of them."

The free-throw line was both a blessing and curse for the Nuggets. They made 30 at the line to allow them back in the game, but their 17 misses ultimately cost them.

"It's kind of shocking when our better shooters were missing free throws. It was contagious," said Denver center Marcus Camby, who collected 10 points and 10 rebounds in his return from a one-game absence because of a leg injury.

It was just the second loss in 27 regular-season home games for the Nuggets under coach George Karl, who took over on January 27.

"How we played tonight is not how we're going to be playing in April," Karl said. "We only played half a game."

"Our effort level was tremendous," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "Everyone played and everyone contributed. Denver is one of the best home-court teams in the league. Winning the way we did gives our team more confidence."