Kings top Nuggets in AI’s Denver debut
Denver, CO (Sports Network) – John Salmons recorded his first career
triple- double to spoil Allen Iverson’s Denver debut as Sacramento
stopped the Nuggets, 101-96, at the Pepsi Center.
Salmons, a former teammate of Iverson’s in Philadelphia, finished with
21 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, but this game was all about Iverson.
The Nuggets acquired the enigmatic superstar, along with forward
Ivan McFarlin, in a blockbuster move on Tuesday from the Philadelphia 76ers
for a pair of 2007 first-round draft picks, point guard Andre Miller and
forward Joe Smith.
The short-handed Nuggets were hopeful Iverson would arrive in time to pass
his physical and suit up for the game and he did manage to get into town in
time, despite a well-deserved reputation for tardiness.
Iverson entered the game late in the first quarter to thunderous applause
from the Denver faithful and quickly stuck a pull-up jumper for his first
points as a Nugget.
The All-Star guard played every minute the rest of the way and finished the
contest with 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the floor and added 10
assists but it wasn’t enough, as Sacramento pulled away down the stretch.
“I have never had butterflies like that,” said Iverson after the game. “I
thought I was going to get 25 minutes but coach knows what a competitor I am.
I wanted to be in the game so my teammates could see what a competitor I am.”
A 6-0 run by the Kings, featuring consecutive buckets by Brad Miller,
gave Sacramento a 93-87 edge with just 2:13 left.
Denver was never able to recover from the mini-burst as Sacramento hung on
for the win.
“For a guy who hasn’t played basketball in two weeks that was pretty good,”
Denver coach George Karl said. “I wish we could have gotten the win for A.I.
It would have been a nice Christmas present.”
Miller added 21 points and 14 boards for the Kings, who snapped a
three- game skid. Shareef Abdur-Rahim chipped in with 11 points off the bench.
“We needed this win this and we did a great job finishing,” said Miller.
Earl Boykins had a game-high 25 points and nine assists for Denver, which
lost for the first time in three games. DerMmarr Johnson finished with 12.
The Kings took a slim 26-24 edge after the opening 12 minutes and
extended their advantage to 52-45 at intermission.
Denver then forged ahead, 77-73, with a brilliant third quarter.
Denver took to the floor again without the league’s leading scorer, as
Carmelo Anthony continues to serve his 15-game suspension in the wake of last
Saturday night’s ugly brawl in the fourth quarter of the Nuggets’ 123-100
victory over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. J.R. Smith is also
serving a 10- game suspension…On the injury front for Denver, center
Marcus Camby was sidelined with a broken finger on his right hand…The
Nuggets released McFarlin before the game…The Kings had to fly in to
Colorado Springs and drive to Denver because of the blizzard that hit town
earlier in the week.