Melo Says He'll Play On Saturday

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Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony can't bear the thought of watching yet another game.

So, even though his sprained left ankle is still a little sore, he vowed to play Saturday night against Charlotte.

"It's good enough for me to go out there and be able to do what I can do," Anthony said Friday after walking off the practice court carrying his left shoe in his hand.

"I hate sitting out. I'm happy to be back."

Anthony has missed five straight games since he landed on the foot of Kobe Bryant in the second quarter of a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Jan. 21.

The Nuggets have gone 3-2 in Anthony's absence.

"I'm pretty sure my team is happy (to have me back)," the All-Star forward said with a grin.

They definitely are.

"Every game we had without him we got what seemed to be more and more naked," Nuggets coach George Karl said.

"You know that anytime you've got a horse and a rock like Melo, it's easier to play with him."

Anthony is fourth in the league in scoring, averaging 25.5 points a game.

He and Allen Iverson also form the most prolific scoring duo in the league this season, averaging a combined 52.5 points.

"He's a big part of what we do around here," Marcus Camby said. "We definitely missed his scoring output and his presence. We welcome him back with open arms."

Karl said he's going to ease Anthony back into the lineup. He won't play him for prolonged stretches.

"I'm going to evaluate how he's running, how the leg looks like it's feeling," Karl said.

Anthony, who scored 35 points against the Bobcats on Jan. 14, is anxious to test the ankle in a game situation.

He said he made it through practice Friday and felt pretty good.

"After not doing much for two weeks, it (the ankle) limited me from doing a couple of things," Anthony said.

"But not much."

With Anthony's return, Linas Kleiza will head back to his familiar role of backing him up.

He's the only player not named Anthony or Iverson to lead the team in scoring in a game this season.

Kleiza had a career-high 41 points against Utah on Jan. 17.
Kleiza doesn't mind coming off the bench again, especially if it means the return of Anthony.

"We are excited to have him back and start rolling again," said Kleiza, who scored in double figures every game he started in Anthony's absence.