Anthony rallies Nuggets past Thunder
Carmelo Anthony's 35 points helped the Denver Nuggets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 112-107 Wednesday night, hours after New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov announced he would no longer pursue the All-Star forward in a megadeal that had been the buzz of the NBA for weeks.
Chauncey Billups and Nene each added 16 points for the Nuggets, who grabbed the lead for good early in the fourth quarter of a game that was close all the way.
After the game, Anthony told the team's TV network: ''It was personal. ... In spite of everything that is going on, I'm still here. ... I'm still a Denver Nugget.''
After months of talks aimed at bringing Anthony from Denver to New Jersey, the Nets' new owner announced that his team was ending the drawn-out trade talks with the Nuggets.
Prokhorov said the talks had become too public, taken too long and had hurt his team, so he pulled the plug on the proposed deal that featured as many as 15 players and three teams.
Prokhorov also canceled a planned meeting with Anthony on Thursday and said there was no chance that the trade would be resurrected.
Hours later, the Nets snapped a six-game skid with a win over Utah. The Nuggets had a much harder time putting away the Thunder, whom they trailed 86-85 after three quarters.
Denver general manager Masai Ujiri declined to answer questions about the Nets' decision to scuttle negotiations on the megadeal, beyond saying the Nuggets have been in talks ''with plenty of teams'' regarding Anthony and insisting he harbored no ill will toward the Nets.
Nuggets coach George Karl said he wasn't surprised that Prokhorov pulled the plug but added he was more interested in the matchup between Anthony and Durant than in ''my billionaire friend from Russia kind of throwing another curveball or knuckleball into the process.''
Karl said the latest twist in this saga won't curtail the drama surrounding the Nuggets and Anthony, whose name has been brought up in trade talk ever since he declined to sign a three-year, $65 million extension last summer.
''It's going to be a huge story until this thing concludes, until there's a final chapter written on it,'' Karl insisted.
The Nets' entire courtship of Anthony might have been an exercise in futility, because Anthony never indicated he would sign his extension to facilitate a trade to New Jersey.
Billups' name was dragged into the talks on the megadeal just two years after he got his wish and was traded by Detroit to his hometown Nuggets. Karl seemed relieved that he wouldn't be losing his All-Star point guard to the Nets, although there remains a possibility his name could come up in other proposed trades.
''As a coach, and knowing Chauncey's leadership and maturity, he usually helps me a lot. So, I would love to have him next to me and be beside me, that would be great,'' Karl said.
There were reports Wednesday that Anthony's representatives had let the Nuggets know that the 26-year-old forward was interested in playing for the Chicago Bulls. Houston and the Knicks also have been mentioned in trade talks involving Anthony.
Karl said his team seemed distracted during an ''awful'' practice Tuesday, but the Nuggets started just fine Wednesday night, jumping out to an 11-point, first-quarter lead before the Thunder settled in and made a game of it.
Notes: Nuggets F Chris ''Birdman'' Andersen will likely miss Friday night's game against the Lakers. He's been resting his surgically repaired right knee and his lower back.