LOS ANGELES - Just hours after a friend took the blame for him, a somber Carmelo Anthony professed innocence and apologized Thursday for a petty-offense charge the Nuggets star faces after marijuana was found in his backpack a week ago.
Anthony, 20, faces a charge of possession of less than an ounce of marijuana. The marijuana was found in a side pocket of Anthony's backpack after it was hand-searched by private security before the Nuggets boarded a team flight from Denver International Airport to Milwaukee on Oct. 15 for a preseason game. Anthony's friend, James Cunningham, told Denver city attorneys on Thursday that the marijuana found in Anthony's backpack was his. He also apologized for the incident.
"I am innocent of this charge because I did not use or intentionally possess marijuana. I had no idea that there was marijuana in my backpack," Anthony read from a statement before Thursday's preseason game against the Clippers. "I sincerely regret any embarrassment this unfortunate incident has had on my family, supporters and the Denver Nuggets organization."
Anthony scored 23 points in the Nuggets' 100-88 preseason victory over the Clippers. Corey Maggette scored 18 for the Clippers, short-handed because of knee injuries to Elton Brand and Kerry Kittles.
MAGIC 92, HORNETS 91: Cuttino Mobley scored 25 points and Steve Francis added 19, leading Orlando in Biloxi, Miss. Dwight Howard, the No. 1 pick overall in this year's draft, scored 15 for Orlando. He got involved in the opening minutes with an offensive rebound and two dunks. Mobley and Francis set each other up for alley-oops and Mobley hit back-to-back 3-pointers late in the third quarter as the Magic rallied from an 11-point deficit.
ROCKETS 98, BULLS 78: Tracy McGrady had 27 points and Yao Ming 20, and the host Rockets rode three impressive runs to a preseason victory over the Bulls. Jim Jackson added 17 points for Rockets.
MAVERICKS 112, KNICKS 74: Jason Terry and Josh Howard each scored 17 as the host Mavericks cruised.
BLAZERS 88, RAPTORS 85: Zach Randolph had 34 points and 17 rebounds, leading an overwhelming inside game that lifted visiting Portland.
NETS: After signing a five-year contract extension to remain Nets president, Rod Thorn spent most of his time discussing the pros and cons of trading All-Star point guard Jason Kidd. Kidd has talked of leaving since the Nets were dismantled in the offseason. "I tell him exactly the thing I tell any player," Thorn said. "If we can make a deal that makes sense for us then we'll look at it."
Meanwhile, Alonzo Mourning went through his first full-contact practice since kidney transplant surgery 10 months ago.
PACERS: Jermaine O'Neal's preseason appears to be finished because of a foot injury. Coach Rick Carlisle said O'Neal probably would miss the remaining five games to rest a strained ligament in his left foot.
WNBA: Val Ackerman resigned as president, a position she has held since the league started in 1996. The move will take effect in February.