Mudiay, Nuggets hand Knicks 5th straight loss
NEW YORK (AP) Rookie Emmanuel Mudiay scored nine of his 15 points during a decisive fourth-quarter run, and the Denver Nuggets beat the fading New York Knicks 101-96 on Sunday.
Former Knicks forward Danilo Gallinari and Will Barton each had 19 points to lead the Nuggets, who won for the third time in four games. But it was Mudiay, who was just 2 for 12 through three quarters, who delivered nearly all the points during an 11-2 spurt that put the Nuggets in control after the game was tied at 86-all.
Kristaps Porzingis had 21 points and 13 rebounds for the Knicks, who have lost five in a row and nine of 10 since they were 22-22 and looking like a realistic playoff team.
Carmelo Anthony returned to face his former team after missing a game to rest his sore left knee, finishing with 21 points, seven assists and six rebounds. But he shot just 7 for 19, missing a rushed, long jumper with the Knicks trailing by three and about 10 seconds left.
Denver ended a four-game losing streak at Madison Square Garden.
Two days after charging back from a 16-point deficit after three by outscoring Chicago 42-21 in the fourth, the Nuggets won this with their defense. They held the Knicks without a basket for nearly five minutes, enough time for Mudiay to give the Nuggets they cushion they needed.
Coach Michael Malone said before the game he thought Mudiay was playing his best basketball of the season, and the rookie made timely plays while the Knicks went cold. His jumper tied it after the Knicks led for the final time and midway through the fourth quarter, and he followed that by getting a 3-pointer to fall to put Denver ahead for good at 91-88.
He added two reverse layups around Gallinari's jumper as Denver pushed the lead to 97-90 with 2:43 to play.
New York was just 5 for 19 in the fourth quarter.
Anthony and Porzingis both missed all five shots in the first quarter and Denver led 31-20 when Gallinari hit from halfcourt at the buzzer. The Nuggets extended their lead to 57-38 when Barton had consecutive dunks, and it was 60-49 at halftime.
Nuggets: Forward Darrell Arthur missed his third straight game with a sore left quadriceps. Coach Michael Malone said it was a big loss because Arthur would've been another player who could've guarded Anthony, saying Arthur ''tried to go last night and his knee is just not right right now.'' … The Nuggets opened a New York back-to-back, visiting the Brooklyn Nets on Monday.
Knicks: The Knicks fell to 11-6 when playing on Super Bowl Sunday. The Broncos lost the only other time they played in the Super Bowl the same day of a Knicks game, falling to Dallas in Super Bowl 12 in 1978. … Forward Lance Thomas missed his second straight game because of a concussion.
Knicks coach Derek Fisher was asked about comments Friday by Sacramento point guard Rajon Rondo, who seemed to rule out the Knicks when he becomes a free agent by saying he didn't think the triangle was the offense for him.
''You can't ask a guy that wasn't very successful playing against it whether or not he wants to come play in it,'' Fisher said. ''So that's his opinion, that's fine. He doesn't play for us. So we're not concerned about his opinion about us at this point.''
While with Boston, Rondo went 1-1 in the NBA Finals playing against Fisher and the Lakers, who ran the triangle.
Nuggets: Visit Brooklyn on Monday.
Knicks: Host Washington on Tuesday.