MILWAUKEE, Jan. 14 (Ticker) -- If Carmelo Anthony was still being bothered by sore ribs, he sure didn't show it.

Anthony scored 38 points and Earl Boykins added 21 off the bench as the Denver Nuggets opened an early lead and held on for a 100-93 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.

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The NBA's 10th-leading scorer at 25 points per game, Anthony was held to 21 on 8-of-18 shooting in Friday's loss at Minnesota and revealed after the game that he had been playing through a rib injury for about 10 days.

"When you get into games, it helps if you forget about your injuries," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "Tonight, he was in the game and we rode his back a little."

Anthony did most of his damage in the first half, scoring 21 points to help Denver build a 52-35 lead.

"It was important for me to come back after last night the way Minnesota played me," he said. "Tonight, I don't think I had to force anything and we set the pace from the first play of the game."

Anthony contributed 10 points in the third period but got little help from his teammates as the Bucks were able to cut the deficit to 72-65 entering the final quarter.

Milwaukee drew within 74-69 with 10:41 remaining, but Anthony converted a layup on the other end to start a 7-0 spurt that pushed the lead back to 12 points with just over eight minutes left.

"I was proud of the way we bounced back and the defense and urgency we played with in the second half," Bucks coach Terry Stotts said. "We just couldn't quite get over the hump."

The Bucks made one final push, getting within 86-80 on a 3-pointer by Mo Williams with 4:26 to go. Boykins drained a shot from behind the arc on the other end to quiet the rally.

"We were able to put up a spurt but (in the end) they shot a better percentage than us and just made more shots," Williams said.

Michael Redd scored 25 points and Bobby Simmons contributed 15 for the Bucks, who lost for the fifth time in seven games.

Denver scored the game's first eight points and never trailed. Milwaukee drew within 29-24 on T.J. Ford's layup with 8:42 left in the first half before Boykins answered with a jumper to ignite a 20-6 burst over the next 7 1/2 minutes.

Anthony scored nine points during the run and Andre Miller capped it with a jumper that made it 49-30 with 1:22 left.

Miller had 18 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the Nuggets (19-19), who have won three of their last four, and five of seven overall.

"I think everyone sees this team improving. Now we just need to get on a run," Karl said.