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News » Melo suspension was turning point

Melo suspension was turning point

Melo suspension was turning point AUBURN HILLS, MICH.

- It would prove to be biggest night of Carmelo Anthony's season. Maybe his career. And he didn't even play.

The Nuggets did - they lost 100-95 to Detroit - but Anthony was 14 miles down Interstate 75, quarantined in his room at the Townsend Hotel, where, as if cruelty had conspired with fate, the game wasn't even televised.

Anthony, one might recall, had been suspended for the March 3 game last season because he refused to come out of the previous game. It was a stiff cocktail of humiliation and infuriation - he knew he should have listened to his coach, but he knew he was heating up on the court.

The Nuggets returned to Auburn Hills last week (Anthony smirked and called it his "anniversary"), and looking back, Melo said that one-game suspension was a cornerturner for him.

"I think so - right after that game, I came back and started playing well, and we started playing well," said Anthony, who led Denver to the Western Conference finals last spring. "It was definitely motivation, just to come back and show that me not wanting to come out of the game wasn't personal - it was for me wanting to win the Basketball game and do what I had to do for my team. That definitely motivated me and made me want to show everyone how serious I was about winning."

Before the Detroit game last season, Anthony was averaging 21.5 points per game, but in the 21 regular-season games after, he averaged 25.3 (and if you throw out the 12 points from the final game, when Denver's playoff position was set, his average was 26.0). And then, of course, Anthony helped win games (with one game-winner) for Denver in the playoffs. He currently averages 30.3 points for the first- place Nuggets .

Asked if he saw a more focused Anthony after the suspension, Nuggets coach George Karl said: "Oh, yeah. ? I would never want to play Basketball when the team is preparing for three, four things that you do well, and they're trying to take them away on a daily basis. It can be frustrating, and then there's the frustration and how it's interpreted by the coach, and then you've got 82 games, being on the road, and players make emotional decisions that, sometimes, the coach has to be a policeman too. But it also opens up the windows for the player and coach to get back on the same page and communicate in a better way."

Learning from Donaghy. Disgraced NBA official Tim Donaghy told "60 Minutes" that some refs conspired against certain players, notably Allen Iverson, who had previously disrespected refs.

Whether or not he's telling the truth, no one will ever know for sure. But let's say his stuff about conspiring to mess with a player is true. Well if that's the case, it could/should open the eyes of the refs who had been a part of that. Maybe they'll be embarrassed and scared to do it again (because of potential repercussions or snitches among them).

And maybe they'll see the error of their ways. Regardless, this could help the game of Basketball, enhancing fairness and the purity of the game through dialogue sparked by, funny enough, the game's most evil rogue.

Depressing stat line of the week. Yes, it's going to take a little while for Iverson to get back in shape, but consider the 76ers' game last Wednesday against the Pistons, which Detroit won:

Philadelphia's Iverson: 33 minutes, 11 points, 3-for-10 shooting, three assists, six turnovers.

Detroit's Chucky Atkins: 30 minutes, eight points, 3-for-7 shooting, four assists, zero turnovers. ........Fresh Duke of Earl? If you haven't noticed, Denver sharpshooter J.R. Smith has cut his hair into what will grow into an early-1990s box cut (think Patrick Ewing, or Will Smith on "The Fresh Prince of Bel- Air").

"That was my favorite show growing up," Smith said. "Me and my friend were talking about getting old-school haircuts, so we just decided to call a barber and cut it."

No word on whether the "Carlton Banks" look is catching on, though the dance is. At the 76ers' arena, they have the "Carlton Cam," which features fans doing the goofy dance from that show, all to the soundtrack of Tom Jones' "It's Not Unusual."

They said it. ``I'll be honest with you - right now (Arron Afflalo) probably exceeded our expectations. He's played more solid defensively than I thought he was, and he's a good offensive player. We don't get him involved in every game, but as the season goes on, his personality will get more consistent at the offensive end. And he's a great kid, too. Very disciplined.'' - Karl, on the Nuggets shooting guard

Benjamin Hochman covers the NBA. Contact: 303-954-1294 or bhochman@denverpost.com

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Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 15, 2009


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