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Joined: Apr 26, 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2006 12:24 am    Post subject: Iverson, Nuggets Battle Celtics

Iverson, Nuggets Battle Celtics
Posted Dec 26 2006 6:07PM
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Allen Iverson wasn't happy with the result in his first game with the Denver Nuggets, but he sure was happy to be in a new uniform.

He'll try again for his first victory with Denver when he faces an opponent he's very familiar with as the Nuggets host the Boston Celtics on Tuesday.

Iverson came off the bench in his Nuggets debut Friday in a 101-96 loss to Sacramento. He entered the game to a standing ovation at the Pepsi Center and had 22 points and 10 assists in 39 minutes.

``The loss, it hurt but you can't win them all,'' Iverson said. ``I'm just happy right now with my situation. It couldn't be better. ... I felt like a newborn.''

Iverson was pleased to be wearing the powder blue and white uniforms of the Nuggets (14-10), saying he liked them when he played for the 76ers. The acquisition of one of the most popular players in the NBA is being hailed as the biggest trade in Denver sports since the Broncos brought John Elway to town nearly 25 years ago.

``They embraced me here,'' Iverson said. ``It was just a great feeling and it was a feeling I wanted to get. A feeling I hoped to get. It was special to me, something I'll remember and cherish the rest of my life.''

The Nuggets certainly need Iverson as the team tries to overcome the absence of three starters. League scoring leader Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith are serving suspensions for their roles in a brawl with the New York Knicks last weekend, and Marcus Camby is sidelined with a fractured ring finger on his shooting hand.

Anthony said it will be difficult to watch Iverson on television while he serves his 15-game ban.

``I said, 'It's going hard for me watching you in a Denver Nuggets uniform when I ain't even out there,''' Anthony said. ``He said he'd try to hold it down until me and J.R. and Camby get back.''

Sacramento played mostly zone defense against Denver on Friday and the former Sixers star went 9-for-15 from the field. However, the rest of his teammates combined to shoot 27-for-82 (33 percent).

``My teammates were as nervous as I was,'' Iverson said. ``Everybody was a little uptight.''

Iverson will be facing a team he has seen plenty of times from his days in Philadelphia. His 34 regular-season games against Boston are the second-most he has played against any opponent (to 35 against New York).

He did not play the Celtics this season, but averaged 35.5 points against them in 2005-06 with the Sixers.

Boston (10-15) will be without leading scorer Paul Pierce, who is out for two to three weeks with a stress reaction - a soft tissue injury - in his left foot.

Pierce and Anthony engaged in a memorable scoring duel in the teams' first meeting this season, a 119-114 victory for Boston on Dec. 15. Anthony scored 16 of his season-high 42 points in the fourth quarter, but Pierce scored 38 and Tony Allen added a career-high 30 for the Celtics.

The Celtics expect second-leading scorer Wally Szczerbiak to be back as they start a five-game road trip. Szczerbiak missed the last two games with a sprained right ankle, but is hoping to be ready after the brief break for Christmas.

Boston got a look at Iverson's former team in its last game and suffered a 98-83 loss to Philadelphia, which ended a 12-game losing streak. The Celtics allowed the Sixers to shoot nearly 54 percent - the third-highest mark by an opponent this season.

After the game, coach Doc Rivers blamed his young team for selfishness.

``Not one single player in our locker room today thought how he was going to help us on the defensive end,'' Rivers said. ``They thought about Wally and Paul's shots. ... This team without Wally and Paul has to be a great defensive team. If we're not, we're just going to keep losing.''

The Celtics have lost two straight after a five-game winning streak.

Boston is trying to win five in a row on the road for the first time since Feb. 25-March 19, 2005.
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