DENVER, Jan. 20 (Ticker) -- Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets have been making a case that they are the best team in the Northwest Division. On Friday, they provided strong evidence.

Anthony scored 31 points and the resurgent Kenyon Martin added 16 as the Nuggets posted their biggest win of the season, an emphatic 113-83 victory over the second-place Utah Jazz.

NBA TV highlights from
After reaching a season-worst three games below .500 on December 31, Denver has won eight of 10 games in the new year.

Denver never trailed and appeared in control from the outset. "January has been a strong month," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "We're having a lot of guys playing more minutes than probably they thought they would. It seems like we're in better shape, too. Hopefully we can continue it through it the month. I think that's what we needed."

By matching their season best with a four-game winning streak, the Nuggets (22-19) have moved 1 1/2 games ahead of the Jazz (20-20).

"We knew that it was a division game and we wanted to win this game bad," Anthony said. "I think we came out in the first five minutes and showed that."

"It was the best focus defensively and offensively we've had," Karl said. "The pace was a lot more like I like it. I thought we had confidence on both ends of the court for the first time in a long time."

Utah coach Jerry Sloan expected his team to come up with a better effort in such a pivotal contest.

"It was one of the most disappointing games I've ever been involved in for a game you would think would have some significance," he said. "They just waxed us. We couldn't execute anything right from the beginning."

Denver never trailed and appeared in control from the outset. Anthony scored 12 points in the opening period, including eight during a 12-2 burst, en route to his third 30-point effort in four games.

The Nuggets had 12 of their 27 fast-break points in the first quarter as they beat the Jazz for the third straight game.

"It's always good to come out execute the game plan like you want to," Martin said. "The game plan was to play fast and we did that."

"As soon as the game started, they just jumped right on our backs and took our attention away," said forward Andrei Kirilenko, who was one of only two Utah players to score in double figures with 11 points. "They played their game and we didn't play our game because of fast breaks. We lost a lot of points from fast breaks."

The domination continued in the second quarter as defensive-minded reserve Greg Buckner scored eight of his 11 points during a 14-4 burst that gave the Nuggets a 37-20 lead.

The advantage grew to 23 points on a late jumper by Anthony before Denver went into the break with a 59-38 advantage.

Utah scored the first six points of the second half, but Denver responded by tallying the next 11 and led by at least 24 points thereafter.

Utah's Devin Brown scored 23 points off the bench, just five fewer than the combined total of the starters.

"It was ugly," said Jazz leading scorer Mehmet Okur, who was limited to five points. "From the first minute we just started turning the ball over and we couldn't make our plays. We couldn't cut and we couldn't rotate."