DENVER — Leaving the Mile High City wasn't the only thing Carmelo Anthony was thinking about this summer.

The Nugget-for-now superstar told the Denver Post that he's been aching to avenge the first-round playoff series beating Denver took from Utah last spring.

"I think the NBA was reading my mind. They granted my wish," Anthony said. "I wanted Utah first game. I know it's going to be a lot of excitement. They got us in the playoffs last year. We kept that in mind."

The Jazz are expecting an inspired effort tonight at Pepsi Center by the Nuggets.

"That group probably has it out for us, too, since we kicked them out of the playoffs," Jazz star point guard Deron Williams said. "So we know it's going to be a tough game, a big game for us to start the season."

Denver could get an emotional boost by the return of George Karl. Denver's head coach missed last year's playoffs, which Utah won in a 4-2 upset, while fighting cancer in his throat and neck.

While acknowledging it will make their jobs more difficult, the Jazz are glad to see Karl back on the Nuggets' bench.

"That makes a big difference because Coach Karl is a great coach and does a great job of leading those guys and keeping those guys together," Williams said. "I think that's something they missed in the playoffs last year was not having him out there."

Added Jazz coach Jerry Sloan: "He was a sick, sick guy. I'm sure he's gone through a lot of tough times. That puts basketball in perspective. ... I think everybody's happy to see him back out there where he likes to be."


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