DENVER - In George Karl’s eyes, Carmelo Anthony’s 37-point performance against Toronto was every bit as impressive as the 81 points Kobe Bryant poured on the Raptors a night earlier.
Maybe a smidgen more amazing, in fact.
Karl’s a big believer that shooting percentage is a better barometer for players than point totals, and Anthony shot a career-best 81.25 percent in leading the Denver Nuggets to their sixth straight win, 107-101 Monday night.
Don’t get him wrong, Karl called Kobe “a superman, he’s a super-human athlete,” but Denver’s coach liked watching his own star shoot an efficient 13-of-16 from the floor much more than he enjoyed watching Bryant burn the Raptors, a game he turned off after the Los Angeles Lakers took the lead, history be damned.
“’Melo was incredible, 13-for-16? Players just don’t do that in this league anymore, and he does,” Karl said. “I just think it shows that if he makes the jump shot, he’s very difficult, if not impossible to cover.”
Anthony’s previous career-best shooting day was 75 percent on 12-for-16 shooting against Golden State last April.
The Raptors were still smarting a day after surrendering Bryant’s 81 points in their 122-104 loss to the Lakers. After watching the film in the morning, Toronto put its embarrassment behind and gave the Nuggets a good game.
But whether it was Kobe’s 81 points or ’Melo’s 81 percentage points, it equaled a loss just the same.
“That number won’t haunt this club,” Jalen Rose said. “They did a nice job of running. They had 36 points on the break. Having played in Denver, I understand how they feed off the altitude. When they get a long rebound, Anthony is taking off. They throw the touchdown pass to him and he’s athletic and is a very good finisher.”
Kenyon Martin added 25 points and 12 rebounds as the Nuggets improved to 10-2 in January.
And Monday night represented the best Martin and ’Melo have played together.
“Hopefully we can keep it going,” Martin said.
“He got a lot of layups,” Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said. “I thought when we got back and made them play halfcourt, pass the ball, our defense was pretty good. You can’t make up 36 fastbreak points. We got more shots than they did and then they got to the free throw line more because we weren’t getting back in transition.”
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