Nuggets 106, Hornets 91

DENVER, March 6 (AP) -- No baby yet.

But Carmelo Anthony didn't want to risk missing the birth of his first child. So after scoring 21 points and grabbing seven boards in a 106-91 win over the New Orleans Hornets on Tuesday night, he scurried out of the Pepsi Center and straight to the hospital.

"She's fine right now,'' Anthony said of his fiancee, actress La La Vazquez. "I don't think anything is going to happen tonight.''

Anthony said he thought he played pretty well considering his mind was thinking of his impending baby boy. He tried to push it aside for the game.

"I just wanted to come out and win a basketball game,'' said Anthony, who won't make the trip to Golden State on Wednesday night. "Prove to people I don't have to score 30 points to win a basketball game.''

Anthony had plenty of help Tuesday night as Allen Iverson scored 25 points and Nene finished with 15 points and 14 boards. Steve Blake came off the bench to add 13 points and six assists.

"We need any win we can get,'' Iverson said. "We have to concentrate on one game at a time and just worry about the game we are playing. Tonight was a big game, but the rest of the games from here on out are going to be big games.''

Anthony played Tuesday night with an attitude. He was fired up after coach George Karl reportedly called him out in a Denver Post newspaper column. In the column, Karl said he didn't think Anthony was listening and that he was frustrated.

"The comments in the paper were not directed at Melo, but at the whole team,'' Karl said.

Regardless, it got Anthony's attention.

"This is another blow I've got to take and put behind me,'' Anthony said. "I'm not an immature person, I know that. I don't want to start (something) between me and George.''

Tyson Chandler finished with 15 points and 18 rebounds for his 13th straight double-double. It's also his 20th straight game with double-digit rebounds.

Chris Paul had 13 points and 14 assists while Rasual Butler contributed 11, including three 3-pointers midway through the fourth quarter. The Hornets have now lost four of their last five.

"This is a frustrating loss,'' Chandler said. "This is one of the more frustrating losses. I felt we could have won.''

Hornets coach Byron Scott said the loss boiled down to effort.

"We aren't competing for 48 minutes,'' Scott said.

Denver led by as many as 23 points with 3:20 left in the third quarter. However, the Hornets cut the deficit to 96-88 with 4:58 remaining in the game on a jumper by Jannero Pargo.

Normally, the thought of a fourth-quarter collapse might have the Nuggets on edge, but not this time. The Nuggets, who've lost 10 times when leading after three quarters, scored seven straight points to secure the victory.

"We (weren't) going to give this game away,'' Anthony said.

After the game, Karl was highly complimentary of Anthony, his star in training.

"I think Melo had one of his best performances since the All-Star break,'' Karl said.

Karl also tried to downplay his comments.

"The NBA is not a perfect coaching forum. It never has been and never will be,'' he said. "I still believe, as I tell them after I criticize them, that I think you can be (darn) good. Do you want to be (darn) good? Show me.

"What disappoints me about this situation we are in now is that we have a crowd base that wants to pick us up and cheer for us and get excited and like the team and fall in love, but we are playing too much muddy basketball to get them behind us.''

Notes: The Hornets are 2-1 against Denver this season. ... Denver guard J.R. Smith was a surprise contributor when he was inserted into the lineup with 1:34 remaining, his first game back since tearing the lateral meniscus in his left knee against San Antonio on Feb. 20. He had arthroscopic surgery the next day. He'd missed the last five games with the injury. ... Eduardo Najera finished with 10 points. ... Marcus Camby grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked six shots despite playing with a sore tailbone.

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