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Carmelo Anthony says nice things about Denver, but does that change anything?

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Denver has a good basketball team right now. We were reminded of that last night when they hung with the Lakers in a scoring fest, got good play off the bench (I could swear I saw Al Harrington on help defense) and played enough defense late to hand Los Angeles its first loss. The capacity crowd at the Pepsi Center ate it up. They want to believe.

But the cloud of Carmleo Anthony’s trade demands loomed over the night. It looms over everything with the Nuggets.

Anthony keeps saying the right things publicly, and that includes Thursday. That doesn’t really change the bottom line, the underlying issues are the same, but he says the right things.

For one, he tried to diffuse the talk around Chris Paul’s toast back in July at Anthony’s wedding a toast that included the thought of Anthony and CP3 joining Amar’e Stoudemire in New York. From Chris Tomasson at FanHouse:

“It was at my wedding,” Anthony said. “Everybody was having fun. The Miami Heat thing was the hot topic at that point in time. There were a lot of guys, a lot of players there, just laughing and joking about it. It is what it is. … It wasn’t set up. It wasn’t staged or anything like that. It was just everybody was having a good time laughing and joking.”

Anthony publically is saying that he wants to keep his options open and Denver is one of those options.

“I think as far as my situation goes or anything, I think (VP of basketball operations) Masai (Ujiri) and (team president) Josh (Kroenke) and myself, we have great communication,” Anthony said. “The lines are open right now between us. If anything is happening, if anything is being said, we sit down and talk about it. So that’s a good thing. Then I can be able to go to them or they come to me. Being that they’re the leaders of this organization and we need to sit down and talk it out.

“What’s going on in my head, they know. They know what’s going on in my head. So, as far as any of that stuff goes, we’re all on the same page.”

Anthony even asked Kobe Bryant for advice, as Kobe told FanHouse.

“I said, ‘Make sure you’re sure about what you want to do,”’ Bryant told FanHouse on Thursday before his Lakers were to face Anthony’s Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. “That’s the only advice I gave him.”

The hype around ‘Melo is going to get ratcheted up in the next week, as the Nuggets host the New York Knicks next Tuesday. You can bet through it all Anthony will keep saying the right things, he’s practiced at it.

But this was never about what Anthony said publicly — the pressure has come from his agent and the people at CAA. It has been done through back channels. And that has not changed either. They continue to say — other teams around the league certainly believe — that Anthony is not going to sign that three-year, $65 million extension with Denver. That Denver knows it and that they will have to move him or risk being Cleveland and Toronto.

Ujiri and Kronke have been the ones to move slowly, patiently on this. Hoping they can change Anthony’s mind, waiting for better offers to come in. Denver is not moving quickly on this, not yet anyway.

Nothing has really changed. There has been — and there will be in the next week — a lot of talk about Anthony in Denver, Anthony on the trade block. But the song remains the same. The extension sits unsigned. Anthony speaks of loving Denver but keeping his options open. Behind the scenes his people push for a trade to New York or Chicago. Denver’s front office is patient and cautious. All the way things have been for months.

Things are going to have to change at some point, maybe after Dec. 15 with signings from this summer can be moved. But right now, it’s status quo.

Cory Joseph drains game-winning three at buzzer for Raptors (VIDEO)

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Cory Joseph made a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Toronto Raptors an 84-82 victory over the Washington Wizards on Saturday night.

Kyle Lowry scored 27 points for the Raptors, who before Joseph’s 3 had not led since early in the first quarter.

Joseph took DeMar DeRozan‘s pass in the corner and nailed the winning shot. He finished with 12 points as Toronto won its fourth straight despite tying a season high with 22 turnovers

Bradley Beal scored 20 points for Washington, which lost its fourth straight despite allowing its fewest points of the season.

John Wall added eight of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, but missed a pair of late free throws that opened the door for Toronto to win in regulation.

With 3.0 seconds left following those misses and a timeout, DeRozan got the ball, drove toward the baseline and kicked the ball out to Joseph in the left corner. Joseph rose and sank his 3-pointer as time expired.

Washington failed to hit a field goal over the final 4:24 to fall to 1-8 in its last nine regular-season games against Toronto. The Wizards did sweep the Raptors in the first round of last season’s Eastern Conference playoffs.

Toronto trailed by as many as 10 before Lowry’s 3-pointer from the left wing tied it at 70-all early in the fourth.

Washington answered with a 10-2 run before Toronto scored the next seven points, with Lowry’s 3-pointer off DeRozan’s kickout making it 80-79.

After DeRozan and Lowry each missed shots with a chance to take the lead, Wall and DeRozan traded free throws. But Wall missed a pair next, setting up the final sequence.


James hits game-winner, Cavs edge Nets (VIDEO)


CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James made a running hook shot with a second left and scored 26 points, giving the Cleveland Cavaliers a 90-88 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday night.

After Joe Johnson‘s three foul shots tied the game with 15.2 seconds left, the Cavaliers called timeout and took the ball at midcourt.

James took the inbounds pass, dribbled to the top of the key before cutting to the right of the lane and hitting a hook shot over Brook Lopez, the Nets’ 7-foot center.

James scored 10 points and added a key steal late in the game to help Cleveland (13-4) remain unbeaten at home in nine games.

Kevin Love also scored 26 points for Cleveland, which played a sluggish first half and didn’t take its first lead until midway through the third quarter.

Lopez led Brooklyn (4-12) with 22 points. Johnson added 17 for the Nets, who fell to 1-10 on the road.

Tristan Thompson‘s basket with 1:13 remaining gave Cleveland an 86-85 lead and James made two free throws with 16 seconds left, but Johnson was fouled by J.R. Smith attempting a 3-pointer.

Johnson hit all three foul shots, but James made sure the Nets’ strong effort fell short.

James helped Cleveland rally from an 83-76 deficit in the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer and a three-point play before the Cavaliers took the lead on Thompson’s basket with 2:44 remaining.

Brooklyn built the lead to double figures in the second quarter and led 50-44 at halftime. Cleveland took its first lead at 61-60 on Love’s 3-pointer midway through the third. Matthew Dellavedova‘s 3-pointer gave the Cavaliers a 69-68 lead going into the final period.

Mo Williams scored 14 points for the Cavaliers while Thompson had 10 points and 11 rebounds. Thaddeus Young had 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Nets.


Scott Skiles says he would not have traded Tobias Harris to Magic

Tobias Harris, O.J. Mayo
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Back at the start of the season in 2012 and into early 2013, Tobias Harris was buried on the bench in Milwaukee — glued there by coach Scott Skiles. At the trade deadline that February, the Bucks sent Harris to Orlando  — where he blossomed into a quality forward that is part of the Magic’s future.

The Magic now coached by Scott Skiles.

Did Skiles want Harris moved at the time? No, he told Journal Sentinel (hat tip Eye on Basketball).

“He was pretty mature as a person even then,” Skiles said of Harris, who left Tennessee after his freshman year to enter the NBA draft. “In camp he got sick; he fell behind.

“At that time, we just felt (Luc) Mbah a Moute was a better defender and (Mike) Dunleavy was a better offensive player, and Tobias didn’t get as many minutes. But we were high on him.

“Not that anybody would have listened to me, but if I would have still been the coach, I would not have been for moving Tobias. That’s for sure, if somebody would ask my opinion.”

Skiles was under pressure to win back then in Milwaukee (he was let go at the end of the season) so you can’t be surprised he was playing the veterans he trusted over the young player who would be making mistakes.

Skiles trusts Harris now; he’s giving him more than 30 minutes a night. While he’s played some small four to start the season, Skiles has switched the lineups and now has Harris starting at the three (Channing Frye is at the four). In that role he has averaged 18 points through two games, Harris has looked more comfortable. We’ll see if that sustains, but you know Skiles is giving him a chance.


DeMarcus Cousins out for Kings vs. Warriors Saturday

DeMarcus Cousins, Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams
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As if Golden State was not already a prohibitive favorite Saturday night.

DeMarcus Cousins, who has missed the last two games for Sacramento with a strained back and that will continue Saturday. Our old friend Bill Herenda tweeted it first.

Not only are the Kings 1-6 without Cousins, but they were also on their way to beating Charlotte Monday until Cousins had to leave the game.

Golden State will likely be without Harrison Barnes in this game after spraining his ankle in the last game. Expect Andre Iguodala to get the start, or if interim coach Luke Walton doesn’t want to mess with the bench rotation he could go with Brandon Rush.