The Nuggets are getting a taste of what life is like without Carmelo Anthony.
It isn't pretty.
With a 95-89 loss at home Sunday to Philadelphia, the Nuggets are 0-3 since Anthony left the team due to the death of his sister, Michelle Anthony, due to a pre-existing medical condition. Denver is hoping Anthony will return for Tuesday's home game against Portland.
Being without Anthony could be a precursor of things to come. Anthony, who has not signed a three-year, $64.47 million contract extension and can become a free agent next summer, could be dealt by the Feb. 24 trade deadline.
"There's not a flow to the rhythm of the players you can play because of Melo not being here," Nuggets coach George Karl said of playing without Anthony, who leads the team with a 24.0 scoring average.
The first two losses without Anthony were understandable but still disappointing. Going against two of the West's best teams, Denver blew a nine-point fourth-quarter lead to fall at San Antonio 109-103 last Wednesday and blew a six-point third-quarter lead in losing 114-106 at Oklahoma City on Saturday.
Sunday's loss, though, really stung. The Nuggets had been 12-2 at home and Philadephia 3-12 on the road.
"He makes a difference in any game," Nuggets guard Chauncey Billups said of Anthony. "First through the fourth quarter, he makes a big difference, but he's definitely big in those types of situations."
The Nuggets this season are 1-4 overall without Anthony. They went 1-1 earlier this month when Anthony was out with a sore knee.
The Nuggets were going to give forward Kenyon Martin the second night off of back-to-back situations as he works his way back from a knee injury that cost him the first 26 games of the season. But Martin was called into duty Sunday against Philadelphia because the Nuggets had lost two straight and really needed a win.
It didn't help. The Nuggets lost 95-89 at home to the 76ers. Martin went scoreless on 0-of-6 shooting, although he did have six rebounds in 19 minutes.
Martin had been pleased with how he played in his first two games. In his second game Saturday at Oklahoma City, Martin had 10 points and four rebounds in 21 minutes.
"I'm getting there," Martin said afterward. "I knew it was going to be a process. Still limited minutes-wise, but (Nuggets coach) George (Karl) is doing a good job finding me minutes."
Minutes were found for Martin on the second game of a back-to-back situation but it didn't turn out how the Nuggets had hoped. It remains to be seen how Denver handles Martin during its next back-to-back situation, which will come Tuesday at home against Portland followed by Wednesday at Minnesota.
The Nuggets have been without star forward Carmelo Anthony the past three games due to the death of his sister, and all have been losses. But Nuggets coach George Karl says it's more than that.
Karl blasted his team after Sunday's 95-89 home loss to Philadelphia. The Nuggets were outscored 29-18 in the fourth quarter.
"I'm frustrated," Karl said. "I'm concerned. There's some habits that do bother me. I think our commitment to play fast and also (poor) transition defense is a habit that we are not trying to fix right now. I have no idea.
"We had four guards in the game when we had a lead and we didn't run back, we didn't get back. We attack the rim and we do put our guys on the baseline, but all you've got to do is keep a focus and you can get back. Getting back and rebounding are just commitment."
There was some frustration building with Karl even before the three-game skid. Since the Nuggets (16-13) raised their record to 13-6 with a seven-game winning streak, they've gone just 3-7.
F Al Harrington suffered a dislocated right thumb early in the second quarter of Sunday's 95-89 loss to Philadelphia. Harrington was hurt when Philadelphia's Thaddeus Young knocked the ball away from him as he brought it up court. He left the game for X-rays, and didn't return.
G Chauncey Billups has taken it upon himself to score more with forward Carmelo Anthony, Denver's leading scorer with a 24.0 average, being out the past three games due to the death of his sister. Billups scored 24 points Sunday against Philadelphia after having 30 the previous night at Oklahoma City and 20 last Wednesday at San Antonio. Entering the three-game stretch, Billups hadn't even had 20 or more points in two straight games this season.
G J.R. Smith had a bad night shooting Sunday against Philadelphia, going 4-of-14, including 1-of-9 from three-point range, for nine points. But Smith this season has been able to do other things in games when his shot isn't falling. That was the case Sunday, when he had a career-high 11 rebounds.
F Al Harrington (dislocated right thumb) was lost for the game in the second quarter Sunday against Philadelphia. He's day-to-day.
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