The Denver Nuggets subverted Allen Iverson’s return to the NBA last night, downing the Philadelphia 76ers 93-83, despite Denver playing one of its worst games of the season. The Nuggets shot a woeful 30.5 percent from the floor through the first three quarters of the game (via The Denver Post).
Heading into the fourth quarter, though, the Nuggets went on a tear, hitting 11 of their first 12 shots. Chauncey Billups had a game-high 31 points, added eight rebounds and eight assists, and led the Nuggets to their fourth consecutive win. He had to, as the Nuggets’ scoring leader faded. Carmelo Anthony finished with just 14 points—less than half his average. The low total marked the first night this season Melo hasn’t scored at least 20 points.
Perhaps he was one of the players caught up in the hoopla over former Nugget Iverson, who, after more than a month away from the NBA, returned to the 76ers last night, the team on which he spent the bulk of his Hall of Fame career. The arena was packed, and every time Iverson touched the ball, the place went wild. But it may have been inevitable that the Nuggets would eventually overcome the early struggles: As Denver Stiffs points out, the 76ers happen to be a terrible team, and there’s a reason they’ve lost 10 straight games.
Meanwhile, Tim Donaghy might have walked away a winner. The disgraced former NBA ref, who was recently released from prison after admitting to giving bookies inside information and betting on NBA games, said Sunday he would almost always bet against Iverson’s team, knowing most NBA referees dislike Iverson. Donaghy says he bet on a January 7, 2007, Nuggets-Utah Jazz game, certain the Nuggets would lose because of Iverson.