DENVER: Carmelo Anthony returned from a team suspension to score 38 points and lead Denver to a 106-90 win over the Portland Trailblazers on Thursday, boosting the Nuggets slim NBA Northwest Division lead.
The win gave the Nuggets a 1-1/2 game lead in the Northwest, ahead of the Trailblazers and Utah.
Portland missed its chance to go top of the division this late in the season for the first time in eight years.
Anthony, who was suspended for a game after refusing to come to the bench when told by the coach earlier this week, made sure to sprint to the bench as soon as George Karl beckoned this time.
Anthony's point total was his second highest of the season and his 16 baskets tied his season high.
Hornets 104, Mavericks 88
In New Orleans, the hosts extended their winning streak to six games with a comfortable victory over Dallas.
Chris Paul had 27 points and 15 assist for the Hornets, who haven't lost since center Tyson Chandler returned to the lineup from a left ankle injury - and rescinded trade - last week.
The Mavericks were competitive for much of the contest but faded in the last 10 minutes.
(China Daily 03/07/2009 page12)