NEW YORK -- The Denver Nuggets were the bigger losers Monday after the NBA handed out penalties in the fight that broke out near the end of Saturday night's game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Denver's Carmelo Anthony, the NBA's leading scorer, was suspended 15 games for sucker-punching the Knicks' Mardy Collins. Denver teammate J.R. Smith and New York's Nate Robinson also received stiff penalties from the league -- 10-game suspensions.

"It is our obligation to take the strongest possible steps to avoid such failures in the future and to make a statement to all who follow the game of basketball that we understand our obligations and take them seriously," NBA commissioner David Stern said in a statement.

There was no separate penalty for Knicks coach Isiah Thomas, who had warned Anthony not to go into the lane before the mayhem started Saturday night.

There was speculation Thomas would be penalized for his comments to Anthony. Stern acknowledged hearing about it, but said he relied only on "definitive information" when handing out punishments.

The NBA, still trying to repair its image after the brawl between Indiana Pacers players and Detroit Pistons fans two years ago, also fined the Nuggets and Knicks $500,000 apiece.

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