Carmelo Anthony put up a gaudy point total the last time he faced the Houston Rockets and the Denver Nuggets still lost. 'Melo and the Nuggets just cut out a step this time: Anthony was mediocre, and the Rockets won 121-102. Houston led by as many as 31 in the fourth quarter.
'Melo shot just 4-14, but made his line more palatable by hitting 8-10 free throws for 16 points. The Nuggets led for much of the first half, but the Rockets, behind Kevin Martin and Shane Battier, came out blazing in the third quarter. Each Rocket wing scored eight points in the first 10 minutes of the third as Houston built up a 17-point lead. The Rockets bench took over and extended the margin, as Aaron Brooks and Chase Budinger each scored seven in the fourth, and Courtney Lee and Jordan Hill added six each.
In all, Houston's bench scored 68 points in 111 minutes. Denver's bench scored 40 in 99 minutes. The Nuggets are now 31-25, a half-game behind the Jazz and Blazers and in the No. 8 spot by just a game over the Grizzlies. So what happens if the Nuggets keep Carmelo Anthony and fail to make the playoffs?