Sophomore effort

BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

LeBron James threw a baseball-style pass the length of the court to Carmelo Anthony. Anthony tossed a nifty over-the-head, behind-the-back pass to a charging Chris Bosh.

And Bosh completed the play with a powerful slam.

As three-man plays go, it was as pretty and dramatic as any other play at the Pepsi Center in Denver last night.

Not coincidentally, Bosh of the Raptors, Anthony of the Denver Nuggets and James of the Cleveland Cavaliers were three of the driving forces in the NBA sophomores' 133-106 victory over the rookies in their annual game as part of all-star weekend.

"We just wanted to beat up on the rookies," said Bosh, who had 26 points and 14 rebounds while playing 29 minutes in the 40-minute game.

Did Bosh get tired? He looked winded at times.

"The altitude got me a little bit," Bosh admitted. "But I probably needed a workout. I should be all right for practice on Monday (with the Raptors in New Jersey, where they will play the Nets on Tuesday).

Anthony, who was named the game's MVP last night as a consolation prize for not making the main all-star game in his home NBA city, scored 31 points. Bosh probably had a better all-around game, but Anthony got the home-town voting edge.

"The game was a joke last year," said Anthony, recalling the beating his rookie team took in a defence-free, showboating extravaganza in 2004 that drew the ire of the league. "We took it a little more seriously this year."

James, who will play in the main all-star game tomorrow, had 20 points. Tony Allen and Al Jefferson led the rookies with 17 points apiece.

That the game last night was a reasonable facsimile of basketball was good news for the NBA. And it happened despite the fact the all-star weekend got off to an awkward start when Denver mayor John Hickenlooper got his balls mixed up the other day.

As Hickenlooper opened the interactive, fan-friendly carnival known as Jam Session, he accidentally said: "Denver is all about baseball."

Say what?

Behind the mayor, Anthony laughed hard as he whispered to teammate Earl Boykins. It's nice to see Anthony still has his sense of humour, since in some ways this weekend is painful for him.

Anthony is putting a brave face on things as he acts as the unofficial host. Anthony is everywhere. But so is James.

There even was a small chance the omnipresent James might compete in the slam dunk contest this evening. However, since he's battling both the flu and an ankle injury, he said yesterday he likely is not going to take part.

Regardless, this weekend has an air of being James' coming-out party. Anthony can't help but be a little envious, given the locale.

"I still have to go out and be an ambassador for my city," he said. "It ain't over yet."


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