- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 9, 2008

DENVER Life got even more difficult for the Washington Wizards last night.

Not only did they kick off a four-game West Coast road trip with a 111-100 loss to the Denver Nuggets their sixth straight defeat. But they also lost yet another starter to injury.

Already playing without leading scorer Gilbert Arenas (knee surgery), and Caron Butler (strained hip flexor), the Wizards (24-25) lost point guard Antonio Daniels to knee tendinitis.

Daniels, making his 33rd start in place of Arenas, left the game after six minutes of play and didn”t return. Daniels had missed time earlier this season with a sprained ligament in the same knee.

But it”s hard to say how much closer the game would”ve been if Daniels hadn”t have gotten hurt. The Nuggets (30-19) were seemingly unstoppable on the offensive end, shooting 56.4 percent from the floor and boasting three double digit scorers.

Carmelo Anthony led the way with a career-high 49 points, going 19-for-25 from the field and 8-for-8 from the line. Allen Iverson added 18 points and 11 assists. And Kenyon Martin added 16 points.

The Wizards who fell below the .500 mark for the first time since Dec. 7 had five double-digit scorers but still came up short. Antawn Jamison led the Wizards with 21 points, while rookie Nick Young added 19 off the bench. DeShawn Stevenson had 15 points, and Andray Blatche had 14 points and 10 rebounds. Backup forward Darius Songaila finished with 15 points.

Anthony, whose previous high this season was 37 points, ignited the Nuggets early, scoring 11 of their first 13. The last of which a 16-foot jumper with 7:06 left in the first quarter forced the Wizards, who trailed by eight, to call a timeout.

But the break did little to cool Anthony, who scored five more points and capped a 9-7 push with a 3-pointer that gave Denver a 24-12 lead with 2:04 left in the quarter. By the time the first quarter ended, Anthony had 20 points on 8-for-9 shooting, and the Nuggets led 30-16. Anthony”s 20 points were the most the Wizards have given up to a single player in one quarter this season.

Denver continued its assault in the second quarter, extending the lead to 46-21 with 6:35 left in the half. But Washington went on a 17-3 run to cut the lead to 49-38 and only trimmed the deficit to 56-47 by halftime.

At that point, Anthony had 29 points the most the Wizards have allowed one player to score in a half.

Washington continued to surge in the second half, pulling within four points early in the third quarter. But Denver erupted again and put together what resembled a SportsCenter highlight reel, featuring a mix of fast-break layups and alley-oop dunks. Denver led 88-72 after three quarters and remained in control in the fourth to seal the victory.

On the night, the Nuggets forced the Wizards into 12 turnovers and converted them into 16 points. Denver also had a 24-3 advantage in fast-break points.

The Wizards” road doesn”t get any easier from here. Tomorrow they take on the Phoenix Suns, who lead the league in scoring, averaging 109.7 points.

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