With his right hand wrapped tightly in ice, Carmelo Anthony bounded around the locker room, elated over what he had just witnessed on the big screen.
Anthony's beloved Texas Longhorns stormed back in the final seconds to beat Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl, temporarily dulling the pain he was feeling in his hand.
The Nuggets' All-Star forward scored 21 points and had a season-high nine assists Monday night despite injuring his hand in the third quarter of Denver's 135-115 win over the Indiana Pacers.
He's headed off to a specialist Tuesday for further evaluation. The team, which described the injury as a "probable" fracture, said it doesn't know how much time the star will miss.
Anthony is hoping to play Wednesday night against Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat -- but he's far from confident that he will.
"It's sore and stiff right now," Anthony said of his hand.
So much so that Anthony struggled to put on his socks and fasten his watch after the game. He left his dress shoes untied as he sauntered out of the locker room.
Anthony said the injury happened when Jeff Foster swatted at the ball and hit his hand early in the third quarter. He missed three games last month with a bruised right elbow.
He stayed in the game, though, trying to shake away the numbness. He even had an air ball on a free throw, drawing a pained smile to his face.
"I didn't have any feeling whatsoever," said Anthony, who departed the game for good with 4:36 remaining.
In other NBA games on Monday: New Jersey beat Sacramento 98-90; San Antonio topped Miami 91-84; Milwaukee defeated Toronto 107-97; and Utah edged Golden State 119-114.
Anthony's injury marred the Nuggets' fourth straight win.
"Hopefully, we get some good news on it tomorrow," said Chauncey Billups, who scored 13 of his 24 points in the final quarter. "That would not be good, of course, to have him out again."
The Nuggets improved to 24-12, matching their best start since their first year in the NBA in 1976-77.
Kenyon Martin finished with 25 points for Denver.
Pacers forward Danny Granger had 36 points, the most scored against the Nuggets this season, while Troy Murphy added 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Denver led by as many as 20 early in the game, but the Pacers rallied to tie it at 80 early in the third quarter. Anthony restored the advantage on a 10-foot turnaround jumper on the next possession and the Nuggets wouldn't relinquish the lead, outscoring the Pacers 38-23 in the final quarter.
"They're a very good basketball team," Pacers coach Jim O'Brien said. "We ran out of gas in the fourth quarter. You have to play a tougher brand of defensive basketball than we did."
Even if Anthony has to sit, he's confident the team can hold it together until he returns, especially with Billups on board. The team is 23-9 since acquiring Billups for Allen Iverson in early November.
"We're feeling really good right now, we're playing good basketball," Anthony said.
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