With all the confusion surrounding the Denver Nuggets in the preseason, and all the doubts over the team’s viability this year, it might not have seemed reasonable to think the Nuggets would beat the Utah Jazz on opening night of the regular season. After all, the Jazz is a good team—the one that knocked the Nuggets out of the playoffs last year. But that didn’t matter last night at the Pepsi Center, as the Nuggets routed Utah 110-88 (recap via Denver Stiffs).
Carmelo Anthony’s rhythm was off early in the game, as he bricked several shots. But late in the first half and into the second, he settled down, finishing with a team-high 23 points (box score via NBA.com). Melo was joined at the top of the scoreboard by Aaron Afflalo, last year’s defensive specialist, who seems like a new player this season, with dramatically improved offensive skills that helped him score 22 points and kept him around the basket all night.
The game had to be reassuring for Nuggets head coach George Karl, who returned to the floor for his first game since overcoming throat cancer earlier this year. “I told the team before that their friendship and their togetherness over the summer helped me want to get back,” he tells The Denver Post.
But the solid season start apparently isn’t enough for Melo, who voiced his most definitive comments yet about leaving Denver after the game. “They want to sit down and talk, but my thing is, it’s way beyond this year,” he tells Yahoo! Sports. “It ain’t got nothing to do with the new GM, Josh [Kroenke], or the players. For me, I feel like it’s a time for a change. If I do nothing now, I’m never going to do anything. I feel like my time is now to make a decision if I want to leave or if I want to stay.”