As the media attention has grown each week over the potential destination for Carmelo Anthony, the Denver Nuggets have played some of their best basketball of the season.
That changed during Sunday's 110-99 loss to the 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center. Even though Denver rode a four-game winning streak into the game, with victories in eight of the previous 10 games, the Nuggets and Anthony appeared somewhat disengaged.
Maybe it's because on Monday, Denver will visit the New Jersey Nets and an anticipated media circus.
The Nets were one of the potential suitors for Anthony. Even though billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov announced that New Jersey is out of the running for a deal, nothing is to be believed until the Feb. 24 trade deadline passes.
Against the Sixers, Anthony was soundly outplayed by Andre Iguodala. In more than 31 frustrating minutes, Anthony had 12 points on 3-for-12 shooting, with three rebounds, one assist, and six turnovers.
Anthony entered the game averaging 23.9 points, 8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 2.7 turnovers.
"We didn't get easy baskets for him to get him out of his funk a little bit," Denver coach George Karl said. "I thought in the second half he turned it over a couple of times, and it probably got him a little more frustrated."
Immediately after the game, Anthony went to the trainer's room, where he said he got both knees massaged.
He played all 12 minutes of the first quarter and said that contributed to his knees tightening up. Anthony ended up playing 16 first-half minutes.
"The first quarter it felt good, but making that run in the second after 9-10 straight minutes [including the first quarter], my knees tightened up, and I couldn't find a rhythm after that," Anthony said.
Then he quickly added a disclaimer.
"There are no excuses," he said. "I take my hat off to them with how hard they played."
Anthony, who can opt out of his contract after this season and become a free agent, now heads up the turnpike for Monday's game against the Nets.
A proposed trade between Denver and New Jersey could not be pulled off because Anthony never had talks with the Nets, and they weren't going to acquire him without signing him to an extension.
"I don't know what to expect," Anthony said. "I know me personally, I am just looking to get a win after letting this one slip out of our hands."
Anthony insists that anything goes regarding his next team. "All my options are open," he said.
When asked if he would be open to meeting with the Nets, Anthony remained coy.
"As of right now, I don't think the Nets will be calling," he said. "Nobody is going to come out publicly and come out with a press conference and then go back on their word."
On Monday the postgame interview should be as interesting as the game itself. Against the Sixers, Anthony was more impressive answering questions than finding the right answers on the court.
Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225