DENVER (AP) — Growing up, Carmelo Anthony rarely settled for jump shots. It was frowned upon in his neighborhood.
“As a kid I always drove to the hole,” he said. “Where I grew up if you shot a jump shot it wasn’t accepted.”
Anthony went back to his roots Tuesday night, mixing in driving layups and a couple of jump shots to score 24 points to lead the Denver Nuggets to a 129-100 preseason win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
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Arron Afflalo had 20 points and Kenyon Martin had 11 points and seven rebounds for the Nuggets, who had seven players score in double figures.
Corey Brewer led the Timberwolves with 23 points, Ryan Gomes had 16 and rookie Jonny Flynn scored 13.
Anthony, who played only 23 minutes against Minnesota, is averaging a point per minute in the preseason and is trying to drive to the basket more this season.
“That’s something I’m making a conscience effort on,” said Anthony, who was 7 for 8 from the free-throw line.
With Anthony on the bench in the second quarter, the Nuggets (3-3) pulled away in their first preseason home game against an NBA team. Afflalo and Renaldo Balkman came off the bench in the period to score 10 points each, sparking Denver’s 38-19 run that produced a 69-47 halftime lead.
J.R. Smith and rookie point guard Ty Lawson combined for seven assists in the quarter for the Nuggets, who finished with 34.
“J.R. was great early in the second quarter with his passing,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “We have an ability, if we pass the ball, to be very difficult to cover.”
Denver stretched its lead to 97-74 heading into the fourth when Lawson hit a running 45-foot bank shot at the buzzer.
“As the game went on we fell further and further behind,” Minnesota coach Kurt Rambis said. “Our guys stopped doing the things that it takes for this team to at least stay competitive.”
The Timberwolves (1-5) played without center Al Jefferson, who is bothered by a sore Achilles’ tendon. He sat out the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game against Milwaukee.
Minnesota was also without Kevin Love, who will be sidelined 6-to-8 weeks due to a broken left hand.
Rambis said injuries are not an excuse for a lack of effort.
“We can’t afford to have key ballplayers injured and expect to stay in a lot of ballgames unless we play hard,” he said.
The Nuggets trailed by nine midway through the first quarter before rallying to take a 28-26 on Anthony’s three-point play. After Ryan Hollins tied it with a putback, J.R. Smith hit a 3-pointer with 0.3 seconds left in the quarter to give Denver the lead for good.
“A lot of that had to do with the Nuggets warming themselves up into the ballgame,” Rambis said.
Denver’s only other home preseason game was a 102-70 win over Partizan Belgrade on Oct. 3.