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News » Sour end to Nugs' trip Denver gets hurt on the boards as Melo scores 32 points the hard way against Milwaukee. BUCKS 108, NUGGET

Sour end to Nugs' trip Denver gets hurt on the boards as Melo scores 32 points the hard way against Milwaukee. BUCKS 108, NUGGET

Sour end to Nugs' trip Denver gets hurt on the boards as Melo scores 32 points the hard way against Milwaukee. BUCKS 108, NUGGETMILWAUKEE - From the mountains to the prairies to the ocean to the beer capital (white with foam), the Nuggets' road trip zigzagged America, ending in Milwaukee, where Chauncey Billups digested Wednesday's 108-102 loss like a bratwurst with way too much sauerkraut.

Asked about Denver's 3-3 record on the six-game trip, the point guard said: "That's probably really good for a decent team or a team always trying to get in the playoffs, but for us, I don't think it's good enough, to be honest with you. You take it because you don't have any choice, but I was hoping for 4-2 at the worst, maybe 5-1."

The Nuggets (6-3) yearn to win the Western Conference, and they head into Friday's game against the defending conference champs with a couple of question marks, be it their rebounding (Bucks had 46 boards to the Nuggets' 37) or overall offense (39.8 percent shooting Wednesday).

Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony entered the game third in the league in scoring (30 points per game), and he tallied a hard 32, while often punished with hard defense and fouls. At one point in the third quarter, he got into a shouting match with Bucks center Andrew Bogut, with each player earning a technical foul.

Anthony also grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds and made all 14 free-throw attempts.

"Getting to the line is huge for me - that's my game, attacking the basket," said Anthony, who also had a game-high seven turnovers. "I got 14 free throws, but that's only getting fouled seven times, and I'm probably pretty sure I got fouled double that. But I can't (cry) over spilled milk - we've got to get ready for the Lakers on Friday."

Denver's long road trip is really just a snippet of the long road that is the season. As for Anthony, he will get to the paint early and often, and his coach said Anthony will need to evaluate the most effective way to get to the line - but also stay in-line.

"I think Melo is very frustrated with what's a foul and what isn't a foul," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "I think now we have a day to look at film, send things to the league office, maybe get some interpretations and get him a better feel for what he needs to do to not feel that he's being hammered and not getting calls."

A night after Denver faced Chicago point guard Derrick Rose, the reigning rookie of the year, the Nuggets saw firsthand why Milwaukee point guard Brandon Jennings could win the award this year.

The kid finished with 32 points, including a fearless 3-point dagger in the face of Billups with 3:03 left to give the Bucks a seven-point lead. Jennings made all six free throws in the final minutes to seal the win against the stingy Nuggets .

"His confidence," Billups said, "was top-notch."

Denver's J.R. Smith played pretty well considering it was just his second game of the season. Smith scored 18 points, including a beautiful 3-pointer off an inbounds with 22.5 left, cutting Milwaukee's lead to 102-100. He airballed a 3-pointer on the next possession.

``We don't want to put too much pressure on him, but he's one of our major play-makers and we depend on him,'' Billups said. ``I thought today he made some strides.'' ----------- Win a few, lose a few

The Nuggets finished an exhausting 10-day road trip 3-3. Highlights and lowlights:

Nov. 3 at Indiana: W, 111-93. A 30-13 first-quarter lead helped Nuggets set the tone. Denver dominated the boards, 56-44.

Nov. 4 at New Jersey: W, 122-94. Kenyon Martin scored 18 points with 10 rebounds as Denver avenged a road loss from last season.

Nov. 6 at Miami: L, 96-88. Score made it look closer than it was. Martin got injured;only two starters scored in double figures.

Nov. 7 at Atlanta: L, 125-100. Shorthanded Nuggets got 43 points from everyone not named Carmelo or Chauncey.

Nov. 10 at Chicago: W, 90-89. Turns out Brad Miller's buzzer- beater didn't beat the buzzer.

Nov. 11 at Milwaukee: L, 108-102. Third loss in three seasons at this venue. Sluggish team shot just 39.8 percent.

Benjamin Hochman, The Denver Post

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