|New York @ Denver|
|83 - 115|
Then two weeks ago along came the Boston Celtics , who humiliated the Nuggets in a blowout win and put Denver in its place.
The Nuggets haven't lost since. Carmelo Anthony had 24 points, Allen Iverson added 23 and Denver won its fifth straight game with a 115-83 win over the New York Knicks on Saturday night.
The winning streak traces back to the humbling 119-93 loss to the Celtics on Nov. 7. The Nuggets trailed by 39 points at halftime in that game.
But they found their identity in that drubbing.
"Before that game we were walking around thinking we won something before we won anything," Anthony said. "It was a blessing. The way they beat us? We learned a lot from that."
The Knicks might want to take note. New York dropped its sixth straight game. The Knicks went 0-4 on their five-day road trip through the West.
Fatigue played a factor in Denver's blowout win. The Knicks lost a 123-118 double-overtime game to the Sacramento Kings on Friday night and didn't arrive into Denver until the early morning hours.
"Sometimes in this game, the schedule beats you," Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said. "The guys tried to play with as much as they could. The Nuggets beat us tonight and it was a combination of them and the schedule. Tough night for us."
Zach Randolph rejoined the Knicks in Denver and finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Randolph missed the Knicks' loss to the Kings on Friday night to attend his grandmother's funeral in Indiana.
"This has been a very emotional week for him," Thomas said.
Things got a little testy early in the fourth quarter with the Nuggets comfortably ahead, 86-58. Renaldo Balkman was called for a hard foul and Linas Kleiza took exception, and began jawing at him. Kleiza was given a technical.
"Heat of the moment," said Kleiza, who had 18 points. "We exchanged a couple of words."
Nuggets coach George Karl, not wanting to take any chances, pulled Anthony, Iverson and Marcus Camby soon after the incident.
The two teams were involved in a brawl at Madison Square Garden last Dec. 16 in which seven players were suspended and both teams fined $500,000.
Kenyon Martin walked off the court midway through the third quarter with a lower back strain. He later returned to the bench, but only as a spectator. He finished with six points and three rebounds in nearly 19 minutes.
Martin missed 106 games over the past two seasons because of microfracture surgeries on both knees. He didn't think the injury was anything serious.
"Just a little spasm," he said. "Had them before and they went away. Hopefully, that will be the case this time."
Eddy Curry had 12 points for the Knicks and David Lee came off the bench to grab 11 boards and score nine points. Lee started in place of Randolph on Friday night in Sacramento and scored a career-high 24 points.
"These are times to pull together," Lee said. "We are pulling together. We need to pull further."
That's what the Nuggets did after the Boston debacle. Looking back, the loss had a galvanizing effect.
"That's the worst one I've been a part of in my 12 years," Iverson said. "But we left that game in Boston. Coach (Karl) always says during the course of the year you're going to have games where you can't do anything right, you can't stop nobody and you get blown out. But you've got to leave that game right there."
The Nuggets were able to do just that.
"We've taken that loss and turned it into a win," Karl said. "That's a sign of a pretty professional team."
Notes: Denver starts the season 7-3 for the first time since the 1988-89 season. ... Camby finished with 20 rebounds and five blocked shots against his former team. ... Denver G Mike Wilks ' wife gave birth to the couple's first child Thursday, naming him Isaiah Sharod Wilks. ... Denver held the Knicks to a season-low 83 points. ... Knicks G Mardy Collins had 10 points.