After facing his former team earlier in the week, Allen Iverson hopes he can finally put his past to rest and focus on winning with his new team as the Denver Nuggets seek a rare road win against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center on Friday.
The Nuggets (16-13) have lost seven straight and 17 of their last 18 road games to the Lakers (21-11) since the 1996-97 season. The lone win during that stretch was on Jan 22, 2002, when Voshon Lenard scored 29 points in a 107-91 victory.
Iverson has done well against the Lakers, averaging 28.1 points in 19 games. He is coming off a 30-point performance against his former team, the Philadelphia 76ers, who handed the Nuggets a 108-97 defeat Tuesday.
Iverson, who criticized Sixers management before the game, went 10-of-24 from the floor before being ejected with 1:44 to play after receiving his second technical. He made seven of his first nine shots and had nine assists, but also had a game-high seven turnovers.
“I thought he was a little excited with the turnovers early in the first half and then not being able to make shots, not only he but everybody,” Nuggets coach George Karl said.
Iverson’s arrival hasn’t provided the Nuggets the bounce the team hoped as it continues to ride out the suspensions of star forward Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith. Denver is 2-4 in a stretch that included five home games since acquiring Iverson, who thinks finally getting past the distractions of playing the 76ers for the first time will help him focus on winning.
“Honestly I hope it goes away, but every time we play the Sixers, I know it is going to come back,” Iverson said. “I just want to be a Denver Nugget and not dwell on things that happened in Philadelphia. I owe it to my teammates to just play basketball. I was frustrated tonight because I didn’t play as well as I can play.”
The Nuggets are 7-6 on the road, but will open a four-game homestand following this game.
The Lakers are coming off a 132-128 overtime road win over the Sacramento Kings on Thursday. Kobe Bryant scored 42 points to help Los Angeles reocver from blowing a 21-point lead. He assisted on Smush Parker’s game-tying shot in the final second of regulation and scored on the opening possession of overtime to give the Lakers the lead for good.
“We should be able to get layups every time if they double Kobe at halfcourt,” Lakers forward Luke Walton said. “Kobe did a great job trusting Smush and Smush made a pretty tough layup.”
Bryant was scoreless for the first 16 minutes of Thursday’s game, and missed a jumper with 10 seconds left that led to the Kings taking a six-point lead with six seconds remaining. However, Sasha Vujacic hit a 3-pointer with 4.7 seconds and Bryant fed Parker for the game-tying layup with 0.1 seconds left.
The Lakers guard is averaging 40 points in his last four games. The team is missing several key players due to injury, including Kwame Brown (ankle), Chris Mihm (ankle surgery) and Lamar Odom (sprained knee ligament), putting extra pressure on Bryant, who has never shied away from taking on the team’s workload.
Bryant averaged 37.3 points against the Nuggets last season.