Denver coach George Karl kept Carmelo Anthony glued to the bench for the last 17 minutes of the Nuggets’ Sunday evening loss to the Suns and as always, the New York Post’s Peter Vescey serves up the dirt.

If Carmelo Anthony keeps missing minutes, he will spend more time on the Nuggets’ bench this season than Jeff Bzdelik.

Either Anthony is in George Karl’s bow-wow barracks or he’s being saved for Syracuse’s tourney run.

Minute monitors inform me Mello hasn’t witnessed more than 38 in any of Denver’s last nine games, eight of ’em victories in rapid succession prior to Sunday’s submission to the Suns, when the streak disappeared into Denver’s thin air. And, for the second time in two weeks, the team’s leading scorer was in lockdown (it’s unimportant who starts) for the all-important finish.

When it happened against the Grizzlies, Mello couldn’t (and wouldn’t) really say too much for a couple reasons; he extinguished himself at both ends of the floor and the Nuggets came back from the dead three times on the road to win by one in OT. Immediately afterward, he hurled a towel in Karl’s direction but later claimed he was, ahem, joking around with an opponent.

In any event, Mello was remanded into Karl’s custody with 5:45 left in the third quarter Sunday and never saw daylight again. Partly because understudies had captured their coach’s confidence, and partly because he hadn’t done the job ” he’d missed eight of ten from the field and five of eight free throws.

At the same time, Mello had been outplayed and out-rebounded by Shawn Marion (above), who was well en route to 19 points and 15 boards when Anthony strapped on his seat belt after 24 minutes.

“Are you hurt?” a reporter asked afterward

“I’m hurt I didn’t play,” responded Mello, who had malfunctioned the previous night against the Spurs, missing 13 of 17.

Evidently, it’s not Mello’s point production, or lack thereof, that gets him busted. At the very first practice after the All-Star Game Karl specifically told Anthony and Miller, “If you’re going to make mistakes, make them on offense, not defense.”

Should Mello ever decide to dedicate himself more to that phase of the game, somehow I suspect there will be no more post-game talk of his hurt feelings.

After eyeballing Sunday’s 64-62 eyesore (the Pistons won despite missing each and every one of 15 field goal tries in the fourth quadrant) Larry Brown announced he was going in for additional hip surgery. He denies he has any intentions of switching hospitals.

While it would be a stretch to think the Celtics would present a threat to the Heats’ likely ascent to the Eastern Conference championship, there is no denying that Antoine Walker’s return to Boston has transformed both player and club, the latter improving to 8-1 since “trading” for the former with last night’s defeat of Charlotte.