76ers Notes

DENVER -

Tony DiLeo

said the 76ers had prepared two game plans: one if forward

Carmelo Anthony

played for the Nuggets and another if he didn't.

"We'll go with Plan B, since he isn't playing," the 76ers coach said an hour before last night's game against Denver.

Nuggets coach

George Karl

said Anthony was at the team's shoot-around, "but he didn't participate. He didn't actually 'shoot around.' "

Anthony's absence was a much-needed breather for the Sixers, who were struggling at 12-16. The Nuggets, meanwhile, were strong at 18-11.

Anthony, a member of the gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic team, was averaging 20.5 points and 7.4 rebounds a game. But he missed his third consecutive game because of an elbow bruise.

"He makes them a better team when he is playing," Sixers point guard

Andre Miller

said. "Without him, they're not as good."

Love for Miller

Miller played three-plus seasons with Denver. The Nuggets traded him to the Sixers early in the 2006-07 season as part of the deal that sent

Allen Iverson

to Denver.

"It was not an easy day when that trade went down," Karl said. "I think Andre in a very unique way has gotten better. I've always thought he was a top-10 guard in this league . . . the way he had [the Sixers] running at the end of last season was incredible."

"We play a lot at that position, but there aren't a lot of true point guards," Karl continued. "If I was a team that needed a point guard, he'd be at the top of my list as a free agent."

Miller, who is averaging 15.1 points and 6.2 assists a game, will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

Green back

Guard

Willie Green

, who missed the Sixers' game Tuesday against Boston with a sore left ankle, returned to the lineup last night. Green started at shooting guard.

Smith gets a break

Injured center

Jason Smith

, who is recovering from a torn knee ligament, sat on the Sixers' bench last night. Smith, a Colorado State alumnus, will remain in his native state during the Sixers' West Coast trip. He said he was doing minimal rehabilitation work because his physical therapists thought a mental break would be good for him.

- Kate Fagan