Allen Iverson barely broke a sweat and he thanked Carmelo Anthony for that.
"I think that might be the easiest game I ever played in my career. I was out there watching," Iverson hollered across the locker room after Anthony scored a career-high 49 points to lead the Denver Nuggets past the Washington Wizards 111-100 Friday night.
With Anthony swishing shots from all over the court, Iverson took just nine shots himself, making seven of them.
"I was out there watching," gushed Iverson, who will join Melo as an All-Star starter in New Orleans later this month.
Anthony made 19 of 25 shots from the floor and sank all eight of his free throws in the third-highest individual scoring game in the NBA this season.
"Come on, man," Marcus Camby chided mockingly. "He's a ball hog."
Anthony, playing on a still puffy left ankle that had recently forced him to miss five games, made all three of his 3-pointers, including one with Dominic McGuire in his face in the final minute that gave him 47 points, two more than his previous career high set against Philadelphia on Dec. 27, 2005.
"Actually I was going to drive to the basket and try to get a foul but it felt so good, the rhythm felt good," Anthony said.
After he sank two free throws with 49 seconds left, Anthony was double- and triple-teamed in the final minute.
"I was definitely surprised by that. What for? Just to stop him from getting 50? I wanted to be a part of him scoring 50 points," Iverson said. "I was happy for him, just to see him play like that. I never had a teammate score 49 points. This is one of the easiest games I ever played."
Cleveland's LeBron James scored 51 against Memphis in January and Iverson went for 50 in December against the Lakers.
Anthony laughed at the sudden attention he was getting after roaming free most of the night.
"It was funny," Anthony said. "But my team probably would have done the same thing if somebody was going for 50. I would probably have told my teammates to double-team and do something like that, too."
Wizards coach Eddie Jordan wasn't laughing.
He was steamed that 'Melo came back in the game even though the Nuggets were only ahead 94-84 when Anthony checked back into the game with just under 6 minutes left.
"I thought it was very classless to close the game out," Jordan said. "I have my opinion. I can say what I want to say. That's what I thought it was."
Anthony shrugged off the coach's criticism.
"We weren't trying to embarrass nobody out there. We're trying to win the basketball game and that's what we did tonight," Anthony said. "I don't think it was classless. He can go ahead and say it, but I don't think so."
Nuggets coach George Karl didn't either.
"I don't think we embarrassed anybody or tried to insult anybody. We played the game with our starters in the game. They decided to double-team him in the end and I thought our guys did the right thing and just let it go," Karl said.
Anthony became the third Nuggets player to top 40 points in a game this season. Linas Kleiza scored a career-high 41 at Utah on Jan. 17.
Anthony had scored 29 by the time the Nuggets took a 56-47 lead into the locker room at halftime. Through three quarters he had 40 points on 16-of-20 shooting, surpassing his season high of 37 set against Houston on Dec. 20.
Iverson added 18 points and Kenyon Martin 16, including many of the Nuggets' 10 dunks. The Wizards, playing in their gaudy gold alternate jerseys, got 21 points from Antawn Jamison and 19 from Nick Young.
Were it a closer game, Camby might have had a shot at his fourth career triple-double and second one this season. He had six points, eight assists and 14 boards through three quarters and added just three rebounds in limited playing time in the fourth quarter.
With Anthony and Camby on the bench, the Wizards trimmed their deficit in the second half, pulling to 94-84 on Young's jumper, forcing Karl to send Anthony back in with 5:46 left.
And Anthony went right to work scoring some more.
"I haven't been in that zone in a long, long time," Anthony said. "When I'm like that, I feel that anything I throw up is going to go in."
Notes: Denver is 11-1 against Eastern Conference teams at home. ... Nuggets G Steven Hunter was a late scratch with a sore right knee. ... The Wizards are hoping to get Caron Butler (hip) back in the lineup Saturday night at Phoenix. They are 1-5 without him this season and 7-25 with him out since he joined the team in 2005.
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