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Originally published October 30, 2009 at 9:01 PM | Page modified October 30, 2009 at 9:01 PM

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NBA | Denver's Anthony playing like MVP

This NBA season is just two games old, but Denver's Carmelo Anthony is playing at a frighteningly high level.

DENVER — This NBA season is just a few days old, but Denver's Carmelo Anthony is playing at a frighteningly high level. The small forward logged 30 and 41 points in Games 1 and 2, and seemed to will his team to tough victories against Utah and Portland.

Reflecting all the way back to his days in Baltimore gyms, Anthony said he's never felt this good to start a season.

"But really, it started in the offseason. I was telling people all summer that I was feeling great about this season coming up," Anthony said after Thursday's victory at Portland. "So far so good. I know it's only two games, but two heck-of-a-games. ... It's mental. I wanted to challenge myself mentally to pick up where I left off last year, and I feel that I'm doing that."

During the exhibition season, fans saw glimpses of a player who had elevated his game. Anthony shot fearless jumpers over taller defenders and got to the free-throw line at a startling rate. He led the NBA in scoring with nearly a basket a minute.

Anthony said he approached the exhibition season like it was the regular season. So far, he's approaching the regular season like it's the postseason.

"[He is] trying to move into the level where you're talking about him as an MVP candidate," Nuggets coach George Karl said.

Karl doesn't necessarily want Anthony to win the scoring title.

"I don't think a scoring title is on my list of importance," he said. "My importance would be: Can he have his most triple-doubles and a commitment to be a dominant player in all aspects?"

Notes

• The Boston Celtics elected not to suspend forward Glen "Big Baby" Davis after an early morning fight with a childhood friend the day before the season opener left him sidelined for at least five weeks with a broken right thumb. The Celtics did fine Davis an undisclosed amount.

• Detroit Pistons guard Richard Hamilton will miss at least two games with a sprained right ankle.

• The Phoenix Suns exercised contract options of forward Jared Dudley and center Robin Lopez for the 2010-11 season, but declined the option on the contract of swingman Alando Tucker.

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• The Washington Wizards exercised contract options on guard Nick Young and center JaVale McGee for the 2010-11 season.

Josh Smith is the youngest player in NBA history to block 900 shots. The 23-year-old Smith, in his sixth season with the Atlanta Hawks, passed Shaquille O'Neal as the youngest to reach the milestone when he rejected a shot by Washington's Gilbert Arenas in Friday night's game.

• Orlando's Vince Carter sprained his left ankle in the second quarter against his former New Jersey Nets teammates and left the game. X-rays were negative.

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