DENVER (AP) — Carmelo Anthony's bid for a triumphant return to Denver fell short.
Anthony missed a contested, 14-foot jumper at the buzzer as the Nuggets hung on for a 97-95 victory over their former star player and his struggling New York Knicks on Friday night. "I didn't get it done, that's it," Anthony said. "My teammates did a great job of getting us in that position, putting us in that position, giving me the chance of tying the game or going for the win. I didn't come through. I'll take that."
Ty Lawson scored 22 points for the Nuggets, who sent the Knicks to their eighth consecutive loss. Randy Foye added 17 points and provided the defense on Anthony's last shot, timing his jump so that the All-Star forward had to shoot over his outstretched hand.
"At the end of the game, I'm trying to win, just like him," Foye said. "I knew he wanted that. You could tell. He's the All-Star. He's a leading scorer. He's supposed to take that shot. I just buckled down. I take pride in my defense."
Anthony, who finished with 27 points, starred for the Nuggets for 7½ seasons. He was back in Denver for the second time since he asked for and received a trade to New York in February 2011. Just as he was in his initial return to Denver last March, when a knee injury knocked him out of the game early, the former fan favorite was booed practically every time he touched the ball.
The last few minutes were especially rough on Anthony, who also missed a jumper that could have tied it with under 4 minutes left and turned the ball over on a traveling call with just under 3 minutes to go. But Anthony said the reception he got from the crowd didn't affect him.
"Hell no, that don't concern me," he said. "I'm past those stages." Andrea Bargnani added 22 points for New York. J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert had 11 apiece. Denver power forward Kenneth Faried left midway through the third quarter to have his bruised right quadriceps treated.
Anthony converted a three-point play that pulled the Knicks to 75-67 heading into the fourth. Tim Hardaway Jr. hit his second 3-pointer in the fourth, igniting a 6-0 burst that got the Knicks to 81-78 with 7:32 left.
New York fought back to 85-83 on a pair of free throws, but Wilson Chandler, who came to Denver from the Knicks as part of the Anthony trade, drained a 3 to give the Nuggets a five-point lead. The Knicks cut it to 96-93 when Raymond Felton hit a 3 with 31 seconds left. A turnover by Chandler led to a driving layup by Shumpert to get the Knicks within a point.
After Lawson made one of two free throws with 19 seconds left, the Knicks got the ball to Anthony, who backed in against Foye and pulled up for a turnaround jumper that Foye managed to get a hand on, leaving the shot well short.
"He's strong. He's bulldog strong," Lawson said of Foye. "He's definitely a good post player and we rely on him down the stretch. I've seen 'Melo make a lot of tough shots and he played him perfectly, made him shoot over him and put a hand up and 'Melo didn't really expect it."
Lawson had 14 points in the first half, helping the Nuggets take a 51-45 lead. The Nuggets led by as many as 13 points earlier, going in front 42-29 on a driving dunk by J.J. Hickson with 5:37 left in the second. New York closed the gap by putting together an 8-0 run, pulling within five points on Felton's floater in the lane with 3:01 to play in the period.
NOTES: Lawson has scored 10 or more points in all 15 of his games. ... Anthony is the only player in the NBA who has led his team in scoring in every game this season. ... The Knicks' skid is their longest since also losing eight in a row in February 2010. ... The Nuggets have gone 9-3 since an 0-3 start.