Denver 121, Indiana 101

Denver, Dec. 2 (AP) -- Carmelo Anthony took a quick shower and slipped out through a side exit, proving just how hard he is to stop on and off the court.

Anthony finished with a season-high 38 points in the Denver Nuggets' 121-101 win over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night.

So J.R. Smith became Anthony's unofficial spokesman.

``We've got to keep pushing the ball and getting the ball into Melo's hands and let him decide our destiny for us,'' Smith said.

Good plan. This was Anthony's sixth straight game of 30 or more points. It's the second time this season he's scored 30 or more in six contests in a row, tying a franchise record he shares with former Nuggets star and current Toronto assistant coach Alex English.

``Anthony gets better every time I see him,'' Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. ``He has size, quickness and the ability to go by you. He's a great player.''

And now he has a complement - Smith, who finished with 19 points and five 3-pointers. Anthony and Smith entered the game as the league's leading scoring duo, averaging a combined 48.6 points.

``J.R.'s making shots helps us and his passing has improved to the point where teams have a tough option (between Anthony and Smith),'' Denver coach George Karlsaid.

Karl was surprised by Anthony's scoring output.

``Melo had 38?'' he said. ``He could've had 50.''

Jermaine O'Neal was a game-time decision due to a balky left hamstring. O'Neal aggravated the hamstring in a 105-103 loss to Seattle on Friday night. But O'Neal was in the starting lineup and contributed 20 points. He also grabbed 16 rebounds.

Both teams played on the road the night before and didn't arrive into Denver until early Saturday. The Pacers beat the Nuggets to town despite playing in Seattle.

The Nuggets didn't get in from Minnesota until 4 a.m. due to an equipment malfunction with the plane.

``We were tired at first, but we fought through it,'' said Andre Miller, who had 10 assists.

Karl's getting back on a plane Sunday morning to see his son, Coby, a senior guard at Boise State, play at Montana.

``I'll (watch him), have some dinner and come home,'' Karl said.

The Nuggets had a familiar face sit on the bench Saturday night as Kenyon Martin, who's out for the season after undergoing microfracture surgery on his right knee, paid the team a visit.

``It meant a lot,'' Smith said. ``K-mart finally sat on the bench with us. He started goofing around a little bit. He's a great person to have around your team. It definitely made us play harder for him.''

Anthony, who entered the game as the league's top scorer, has scored 30 or more in 12 of his last 13 games. The streak was momentarily interrupted when he finished with 29 against Chicago on Nov. 21.

Jamaal Tinsley led Indiana in scoring with 25 points. He also had eight assists. Jeff Foster had 18 rebounds and Al Harrington finished with 18 points as the Pacers dropped both games in back-to-back road contests.

``They outbanged us and they outplayed us,'' Tinsley said. ``They played the tempo they wanted and made shots. They just outplayed us.''

The Nuggets reached into their ABA past and broke out Denver Rockets uniforms, circa 1967-68, for retro night. The jerseys were white with orange and black trim and the warmup suits were all orange.

Anthony of today would've certainly fit in well with the high-scoring ABA teams back then.

``He was great,'' Carlisle said.

Notes: Nuggets forward Joe Smith missed his second straight game with a sprained right ankle. F Nene was held out for the 11th game in a row with a bruised right knee. ... Indiana C David Harrison missed his 10th straight game with a sore left shoulder. Harrison played down the road at the University of Colorado. ... Stephen Jackson left the game in the third quarter with a sore right knee. He didn't score in 26 minutes. ... Marcus Camby had 10 points and 15 rebounds.

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