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Carmelo, Denver dominate Durant in rookie's regular-season debut

DENVER (AP) -- Give him time. Don't rush him.

That was the message Carmelo Anthony had for anyone who expected immediate greatness out of Seattle rookie Kevin Durant.

Durant's shot was off in his NBA debut, and the Denver Nuggets beat the SuperSonics 120-103 on Wednesday night in the season opener for both teams.

Durant scored 18 points in just over 31 minutes, but shot just 7-of-22.

"He's going to be all right," Anthony said. "I've been in that situation. I hope nobody puts too much pressure on him and makes him take that team to the NBA Finals this year."

Anthony bottled up the rookie on defense and showed him a move or two on offense. Anthony finished with 32 points, making three 3-pointers.

"It's tough when you have to start off your first game against Carmelo Anthony," said Allen Iverson, who had had 25 points and 14 assists. "The future is bright for him and the sky's the limit for him. He's going to be great."

Durant didn't feel so great after the game.

"I'm always hard on myself even if I played well," he said. "My team did a great job of getting me some open shots. I need to knock them down. I had a lot of open shots I should have knocked down."

Durant was taken by the Sonics with the No. 2 pick in the draft last June. He scored his first NBA point on a free throw about 1½ minutes into the game, and had his first airball two minutes later on a short jumper in the lane. Durant's initial basket came on a driving layup late in the first quarter. He showed no effects of a gimpy ankle, which he sprained on Oct. 23.

"I thought he played all right for a 19-year-old kid playing his first game," Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "It ain't about how individuals play. It's how our team played. We got beat."

Kenyon Martin contributed seven points and three blocked shots in 18 minutes. Martin was back in Denver's starting lineup after missing 106 games over the last two seasons due to microfracture surgeries on both knees.

"I know a lot of people didn't expect him to look that good," Anthony said. "He showed us a lot out there."

Before the game, Martin got on the public address system and told the revved-up crowd, "We're going to bring the Nuggets their first championship."

Anthony, the league's second-leading scorer last season, has predicted the Nuggets will win 60 games this season.

But in order to do that, the Nuggets had to adjust their way of thinking a little bit. Denver coach George Karl preached defense in training camp, and he saw glimpses of it in the season opener.

"Our defense in the third and fourth quarters was the reason we won the game," Karl said.

It sure helped. Seattle had a 79-78 lead with 3:05 left in the third quarter, but Denver went on a 28-11 run to put away the game midway through the fourth quarter. Linas Kleiza had four of his five 3-pointers to fuel the run. He finished with 18 points.

Durant's every move was chronicled before the game. A film crew came into the locker room and trained the lens on him as he tied his black Nike shoes with yellow and green trim, slipped on his warmups and answered text messages.

The intense scrutiny has started.

"I've been playing this all of my life," the rookie out of Texas said. "I reminded myself to go out and have fun. I had fun."

Game notes
The Sonics were without Robert Swift (right knee tendinitis) and forward Kurt Thomas (strained right hamstring). ... Seattle didn't play G Luke Ridnour, who's trying to get used to a plastic mask that he's forced to wear after breaking his nose in a preseason game. ... Damien Wilkins had 21 points and reserve Delonte West chipped in 19 for Seattle. ... Nuggets G J.R. Smith sat out the first of three games after being suspended by Denver for "conduct detrimental to the team" before the season. ... Denver snapped a three-game losing streak on opening night. ... Denver C Marcus Camby had 15 rebounds and five blocked shots.