Sunny days are still far
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New York vs Denver
96 - 108
Record: 17-45
Jerome James in what could have been his best game since joining the Knicks, with 13 points in 14 minutes (Getty Images)
Jerome James in what could have been his best game since joining the Knicks, with 13 points in 14 minutes (Getty Images)
NEW YORK (AP) - The New York Knicks showed they could run with the Denver Nuggets for half the game.

When it came time to get stops, only one team was capable of that.

Carmelo Anthony scored 35 points, 12 in the third quarter when the game turned into a rout, and the Nuggets beat the Knicks 108-96 Monday night.

"The key was our defensive effort in the third quarter and Melo kind of taking control of the game offensively," Nuggets coach George Karl said.

The Knicks trailed by only five points at halftime, but the Nuggets outscored them 25-15 in the third quarter. Denver limited New York to 35 percent shooting in the period and outrebounded the Knicks 16-9.

"We had a nice flow in the third quarter where we had a lot of confidence in our defense and they had difficulty controlling Melo and our transition game," Karl said.

Andre Miller added 16 points and former Knicks center Marcus Camby had 10 points and 18 rebounds for the Nuggets, who pulled away in the second half and improved to 3-1 on their season-high seven-game road trip.

Stephon Marbury scored 25 points for the Knicks, who have lost two straight and have the NBA's worst record. Channing Frye added 16.

Before the game, Knicks coach Larry Brown responded to Marbury's recent remarks that he needed to change his game and play more offensively. Brown said the Knicks wouldn't win until they played better defense and took better care of the ball - and he sure looked right Monday night.

Denver shot 51 percent and forced the Knicks into 16 turnovers.

"We get beat on turnovers every night," Brown said. "We can't get to the free throw line as much as our opponent, we don't create turnovers or block shots (or) get loose balls. So that's the end result, we give up a lot of points, a high field goal percentage."

Marbury thought the Knicks should try to push the tempo, because the Nuggets had played Sunday night in Boston. But Brown argues that a team can't run if it doesn't get stops - and even Marbury agrees the Knicks have trouble with that part.

"We're just not a good defensive team," Marbury said.

Anthony hit consecutive jumpers to cap a 10-2 surge that extended Denver's lead to 80-66 with 3:22 left in the third, then he took a seat on the bench shortly after for the remainder of the period. Denver led by 15 at the end of the quarter.

He re-entered early in the fourth after the Knicks scored six straight points to get within 14, and Anthony promptly scored on a dunk and a jumper as the Nuggets pushed the lead to 95-77 to put away the game.

"I want to win the game," Anthony said. "I don't worry about taking over the game unless I have to."

About the only thing the annoyed Madison Square Garden crowd had to cheer was a rare appearance by rookie Nate Robinson , popular with the fans but not with Brown. He had been inactive for the last eight games and played only once since winning the slam dunk contest at All-Star weekend last month, but entered Monday to a loud ovation late in the third quarter.

The 5-foot-9 Robinson hit a 3-pointer seconds after getting on the court and even enjoyed a rare height advantage while playing 5-5 Earl Boykins .

Jerome James , starting for the ailing Eddy Curry , scored 11 of his season-high 13 points in the first four minutes as the Knicks opened a six-point lead. New York led by seven in the quarter, but the Nuggets shot 55 percent in the period and scored the final eight points to take a 29-28 lead.

The Nuggets led by as much as 12 in the half before taking a 61-56 lead into the break. Marbury had 17 points and Anthony had 15 at halftime.

"The first half was kind of loose, more of an offensive game," Karl said. "In the third quarter defensively for the first eight to nine minutes we made it kind of hard for them."

Denver played the second half without Kenyon Martin , who has been troubled by knee and leg problems for much of the season and recently missed four games. He appeared to be near tears while holding his left leg during a first-half timeout.

Knicks G Quentin Richardson played the second half with his left thumb taped. He sprained the thumb while having a shot blocked in the first half and X-rays were negative. ... With James starting for Curry, who was out with a stomach virus, the Knicks used their league-high 36th different starting lineup. ... The Nuggets have worn their home whites in consecutive games. Boston was wearing its St. Patrick's Day green jerseys on Sunday night, and the Knicks wore their throwback blue uniforms Monday.

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