Denver (17-15) is only 3-6 since acquiring Iverson in a blockbuster trade with Philadelphia on Dec. 20, but has been playing without Smith and league scoring leader Carmelo Anthony, both suspended for their actions in a brawl with the New York Knicks on Dec. 16.
Iverson is averaging 26.0 points in nine games with Denver despite shooting 37.5 percent (45-of-120) in his last six contests.
“I’ve been struggling so bad. I’m trying desperately to just find my game,” Iverson said. “I’m missing shots that I usually can make with my eyes closed. And especially the layups.”
Iverson scored 23 points Monday in a 102-94 victory over Milwaukee, snapping a five-game skid.
“That was tough to lose five in a row, but I kind of learned a lot about this team, just going through some adversity with them early instead of everything being peaches and cream,” Iverson said. “The morale around the team wasn’t great but it wasn’t negative. It wasn’t to the point where everybody was pointing fingers at each other and blaming each other.”
Iverson continues to be bothered by a sprained right toe, which he hurt Friday in a 123-104 loss to the Lakers and irritated against the Bucks when he jammed it into the floor. The team said X-rays were negative and listed him as probable for this contest.
“If it was cut off, I’d play,” said Iverson, who has averaged 39.5 points in his last two games against San Antonio (25-11).
Smith, suspended 10 games for his part in the brawl, has scored in double figures in eight of his last nine games and has hit the 30-point plateau three times this season. Anthony has five games remaining on his 15-game suspension.
“I’m getting tired of them sitting out,” Denver’s Reggie Evans said. “They’re getting tired of sitting out. It will feel so good to get J.R. back.”
Boykins has helped fill the void left behind by Anthony and Smith. The diminutive guard has scored 20 or more points in eight of the nine games the two have missed.
Five players scored in double figures Tuesday to lead San Antonio to a 98-84 victory over visiting Portland.
“We shot the ball well tonight and that helped us keep our lead,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “Overall, pretty good team defense to hold them to 84. Just go on to the next game tomorrow.”
Parker shot 6-of-9 from the field in his return after missing Sunday’s 110-96 win over Memphis with a strained right hip.
“We had a good win. We played pretty good defense and shot the ball well,” Parker said.
These teams split four games last season with the Spurs winning the first two and the Nuggets the final pair. Denver hasnt won three in a row in the series since winning the final two meetings in 1993-94 and the first in the following season.