DENVER (AP) -- Carmelo Anthony scored 23 points, Arron Afflalo added 22 and the Denver Nuggets opened the season with a 110-88 win over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night in coach George Karl's return to the bench.
Chauncey Billups chipped in 14 points and eight assists, while newcomer Shelden Williams grabbed 16 rebounds.
Deron Williams had 17 points for the Jazz, who finished 8-0 in the preseason for the first time in franchise history.
Anthony, the subject of trade rumors all summer, and Karl received the loudest ovations in pregame introductions.
Karl missed the final two months of last season after being diagnosed with throat and neck cancer. In his absence, the Nuggets stumbled and were eliminated by Utah in the first round of the playoffs.
Before the game, Karl described his energy for his return as "childlike" but said he was hoping that after the contest "things will calm down and we get back to normal."
Karl was his calm and composed self on the bench, his team in no real danger of losing this contest after jumping out to a 27-point lead early in the third quarter. Billups, who needed stitches after biting his lip early in the game, and Nene were given the fourth quarter off.
Anthony has been mentioned in trade speculation since he brushed off a three-year, $65 million extension with the Nuggets in June. He was in his white jersey with powder blue and gold trim Wednesday, but this possibly could be his final opener with the team.
Paul Millsap had 15 points and Al Jefferson, acquired in a trade with Minnesota over the summer, finished with six. Jefferson said before the game that Utah's pick-and-roll system fits him "perfect" and that he hopes to thrive like Carlos Boozer and Karl Malone once did.
Andrei Kirilenko, who was held to two points, has had his name surface in rumors as part of a deal that would land him in Denver and Anthony with the New Jersey Nets. Kirilenko is scheduled to make almost $18 million this season in the final year of his contract, making him an obvious trade candidate.
But Kirilenko shrugged off the speculation at shootaround, saying he's been potentially traded "so many times, but I still wear a Jazz uniform. I'm still here."
In fact, he's been with the Jazz longer than any other player on the roster.
Gordon Hayward, who led Butler to the NCAA finals last season, made his pro debut in the first quarter. He finished with nine points in nearly 21 minutes.
It was a painful first quarter for the Nuggets. Billups bit through his lip and trotted off to get stitches and Nene was poked in the eye. Both weren't out for long.
Denver started the game on a 9-0 run and kept up the pressure, leading 60-40 at halftime.
The Nuggets remain banged-up in the front court with Kenyon Martin and Chris "Birdman" Andersen recovering from offseason knee surgeries that are expected to keep them sidelined for a while.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)