PHILADELPHIA -- 'Melo is moving on to New Jersey.
Unfortunately for jilted Nets fans, Carmelo Anthony will still bring his Denver Nuggets teammates with him to New Jersey on Monday for the first time since Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov ended the drawn-out trade talks with Denver.
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Anthony isn't sure what to expect at the game -- but he's certain of one thing. He'll have to produce more than 12 points like he did in Denver's 110-99 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night.
"No excuses," Anthony said.
But maybe cause for concern. Anthony said his knees "tightened up" on him during the game and hoped some soreness wasn't a major issue going forward. He scored 12 points on 3-of-12 shooting, numbers all near his season lows.
He is ready to get to New Jersey and face an organization that appeared on the brink of acquiring him only two weeks ago.
"I really don't know what to expect," he said. "I know me, personally, I'm just looking forward to going there and getting a win."
Anthony said he has not ruled out any options for his future.
"As of right now, I don't think the Nets will be calling," he said, laughing.
He had bigger worries against the Sixers. Andre Iguodala scored 24 points, Thaddeus Young had 21 and Elton Brand 15. The Sixers had six players in double figures and swept the season series against the Nuggets for the first time since 2002-03.
The Sixers grabbed a double-digit lead in the third quarter and held on in their first game since blowing a 21-point lead in a loss to Memphis. This game showed why the Sixers, fighting for a spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs, have been so maddening for their fans to watch this season.
They've played their best at home against winning teams such as Denver and Chicago, yet have blown winnable games in the final minute against teams such as Washington and Detroit.
"In the fourth quarter, we protected the lead, we kept attacking, we weren't thinking of the other night," Brand said. "That was a great win for us. Melo's first time here this year and we played great defense against him."
The Sixers were on their game Sunday.
Perhaps Anthony and the Nuggets were already looking toward Monday.
"I expect it to be a pregame intensity to the game, and then I'm sure there will be some antics during the game that will have to be understood and handled," Denver coach George Karl said. "I would say for most of the time, those things usually motivate my team to play more focused and serious."
Anthony has been the subject of trade talk since refusing to sign a three-year, $65 million extension last summer. Two potential blockbuster trades with the New Jersey Nets have fallen apart.
Prokhorov canceled a planned Jan. 20 meeting with Anthony, ending any chance for now of a three-team deal between the Nets, Nuggets and Detroit Pistons. Prokhorov tired of the talks, saying he was unhappy with how it played out in public, that it took too long, got too expensive and cost his team games.
Chauncey Billups led the Nuggets with 27 points. He was part of the proposed deal and, while he wants to remain in Denver, credited the Nets for trying to build an instant winner.
"What they were trying to put together, we would have had a chance to be pretty special," he said.
Anthony backed his teammate.
"I don't know who put that deal out there, but on paper that could have been something to look forward to out there in New Jersey," he said.
Anthony was whistled for a technical foul at the end of the first half against Philadelphia for throwing his headband into the stands. He was stunned to hear of a Yahoo! Sports report that the Knicks had reached an agreement with former Nuggets general manager Mark Warkentien to join the Knicks as a high-level consultant.
"As far as I'm concerned, I guess that's a great addition to that organization," Anthony said.
The Sixers got rolling in the second, shooting 56 percent to lead by three at the break and not look back. Williams and Meeks both scored 12 points and Turner had 11 for the Sixers.
"The team I know I have had all year showed up once again today," coach Doug Collins said.
|J.R. Smith drives past Jodie Meeks for two of his 23 points in the loss to the Nets. (US Presswire)|
|Philadelphia (21-26) «||32||22||28||28||110|
|DEN:C. Billups 27 Pts
DEN:J. Smith 9 Reb
DEN:C. Billups 5 Ast
|PHI:A. Iguodala 24 Pts
PHI:E. Turner 8 Reb
PHI:A. Iguodala 7 Ast
|Players of the Game|
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|A. Afflalo, SG||36||3-9||1-1||1||4||0||9|
|C. Billups, PG||35||8-12||7-7||3||5||2||27|
|C. Anthony, SF||32||3-12||4-4||3||1||2||12|
|S. Williams, PF||16||0-3||0-0||6||0||2||0|
|J. Smith, SG||31||9-17||5-6||9||1||3||23|
|T. Lawson, PG||28||4-7||2-2||1||1||1||12|
|G. Forbes, SF||15||1-2||0-0||3||0||2||2|
|C. Andersen, PF||13||1-3||0-2||6||1||0||2|
|M. Ely, C||2||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0|
|A. Harrington, PF||Did Not Play|
|A. Carter, PG||Did Not Play|
|K. Martin, PF||Did Not Play|
|R. Balkman, SF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|A. Iguodala, SG||35||8-12||6-7||3||7||4||24|
|J. Holiday, PG||34||2-7||0-0||2||7||1||5|
|J. Meeks, SG||29||3-9||4-4||1||3||2||12|
|E. Brand, PF||27||6-7||3-4||5||1||3||15|
|S. Hawes, C||21||4-6||0-0||5||3||2||8|
|T. Young, SF||32||10-12||1-2||7||1||4||21|
|E. Turner, SG||29||5-13||1-2||8||6||1||11|
|L. Williams, SG||24||4-10||3-3||1||3||1||12|
|M. Speights, PF||9||1-2||0-0||3||0||3||2|
|T. Battie, PF||Did Not Play|
|D. Songaila, PF||Did Not Play|
|J. Kapono, SG||Did Not Play|
|A. Nocioni, SF||Did Not Play|
|C. Brackins, PF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|