Nuggets fans throw their support behind Anthony

Cheers greet All-Star forward during preseason scrimmage

BROOMFIELD – When Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony attended a mixed-martial arts event last week at the 1stBank Center, he was booed.

In his return to the arena Tuesday, the response was much more inviting.

“Melo, please stay,” one fan implored as Anthony took the court for the team’s Preseason Jam intrasquad scrimmage.

When Anthony went to the free-throw line for the first time, a modest chant broke out to the tune of Let’s Go Nuggets: “Don’t go, Melo. Don’t go, Melo.”

After taking some heat from a wresting crowd hopped up on adrenaline and adult beverages last Thursday, Anthony got a better gauge of the sentiment around Denver in the wake of late-summer rumors and speculation about his future with the Nuggets.

“It was different last week,” Anthony said. “It was a different type of crowd. They were serving alcoholic beverages and watching people get knocked out. Tonight it was more Nuggets fans. They came here to see their team.”

The three-time All-Star is under contract for 2010-11 but can opt out and become a free agent next July if he doesn’t sign a standing three-year contract extension. He has never said he wants to be traded, only that he is keeping his options open.

“I laugh and joke about it, but I didn’t expect any type of boos,” he said. “I never once said anything bad about the fans or the city. I don’t think I need backlash like that. These fans just wanted to support their team.”

While Anthony scored 23 points as the headliner, his Blue squad teammates Al Harrington and Ty Lawson stole some of his thunder.

Harrington, who signed with the Nuggets as a free agent in July, hit six three-pointers in the first half and finished with 34 points. Lawson, the speedy second-year point guard, had 31 points and 14 assists.

Despite the production, Anthony, Harrington and Lawson were on the wrong end of a 123-118 result. J.R. Smith scored 36 points to lead the White team to victory.

Smith also added an assist when he brought a young boy over to the bench after Nuggets mascot Rocky stole the boy’s seat between the third and fourth quarter.

“It felt like the right thing to do,” Smith said. “We get to show the fans our appreciation and just go out and have fun.”

Nearly 3,000 people attended the game, which served as a tune-up for Denver’s first preseason game Friday against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Pepsi Center.


Contact Aaron J. Lopez at alopez@pepsicenter.com