PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Andre Iguodala scored 24 points and Thaddeus Young had 21 to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a 110-99 win over the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night.
Elton Brand scored 15 points and was one of six players in double figures for the Sixers, who swept the season series against the Nuggets for the first time since 2002-03.
Carmelo Anthony was a woeful 3 of 12 for 12 points. Anthony and the Nuggets play Monday at New Jersey for the first time since Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov ended the drawn-out trade talks with Denver.
Coach George Karl expects a playoff atmosphere for Anthony’s arrival. He’s also surely expecting more out of Anthony.
Chauncey Billups led the Nuggets with 27 points.
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 against winning teams such as Denver and Chicago, yet have blown winnable games in the final minute against teams such as Washington and Detroit.
The Sixers were on their game Sunday.
Young, Evan Turner and Lou Williams are big reasons why the Sixers lead the league in bench scoring (39.7 ppg) and had two reserves score in double-digits in 25 of the 47 games this season.
Young was sensational in the post, but it was one defensive play that stole the show.
J.R. Smith’s spin move on the baseline to blow by one defender ended with a thud when Young popped out of nowhere to get high — real high — and use his 6-foot-8 frame to swat the shot almost to the 76ers logo at midcourt.
The Sixers scooped the ball and got it to Jodie Meeks for a driving three-point play that put the Sixers ahead 80-68.
Brand sparked a 12-0 run early in the third that helped the Sixers start to build some breathing room against the Nuggets. Unlike previous collapses, the Sixers never let the Nuggets make that game-changing run in the fourth.
Perhaps Anthony and the Nuggets were already looking toward Monday.
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.
Anthony did not talk to the media before Sunday’s game. He was whistled for a technical foul at the end of the first half against Philadelphia for throwing his headband into the stands.
“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,” Karl said before the game. “I would say for most of the time, those things usually motivate my team to play more focused and serious.”
Billups played as if he wanted to score 50 in the first quarter after hitting his first five shots and scoring 16 points. 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.
Notes: Karl joked about his health after missing the last two months of last season while undergoing treatment for throat and neck cancer just a few years after beating prostate cancer. “I’m a machine,” he said. “I’m a 59-year old fine-tuned machine compared to the last 15, 20 years when I was a fat pig. I feel great. My health reports are good. I’m trying to rebuild my immune system so I don’t have to do it again.” … Nuggets forward Chris Andersen returned after missing nine games with back and knee issues. … Nuggets F Kenyon Martin (knee) sat out because he doesn’t play back-to-back games.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)