The Nuggets look to extend their current win streak to a season-high six games when they visit the Northwest Division-leading Utah Jazz on Friday.
Denver (22-17) matched its longest winning streak of the season with its fifth straight victory, 117-112 over Seattle on Wednesday. The Nuggets are also 2-0 with Iverson and Anthony both in the lineup. Although Iverson was acquired from Philadelphia on Dec. 19, the two superstars had yet to appear in a game together prior to this week, as Anthony served a 15-game suspension for his part in a Dec. 16 on-court brawl.
Since Anthony’s return, he and Iverson are combining to score 53 points per game. Against the Sonics, Anthony’s 34 points led the Nuggets while Iverson added 21 and 10 assists.
“It’s like a new beginning for us,” Anthony said. “And we’re going to give y’all something to cheer for.”
Steve Blake, acquired by the Nuggets in a Jan. 11 trade, made two clutch 3-pointers as Denver outscored the Sonics 14-6 in the final three minutes. Blake, however, deflected credit to Anthony and Iverson.
“I know I am going to get open shots because of them,” Blake said. “At the same time, I’m still going to try to get them the ball as much as I can.”
The Jazz (28-15) own a four-game lead over Denver in the Northwest, but are coming off a disheartening 132-130 overtime loss to Memphis that snapped a four-game winning streak. The Grizzlies’ Eddie Jones made a 22-foot jumper in the final second to give the Jazz the loss, despite 39 points from Carlos Boozer and 21 assists from Deron Williams - both career highs.
The Jazz had trouble defending Pau Gasol, who finished with 17 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists for his second career triple-double. Making matters worse, Utah went just 17-for-29 from the free-throw line.
“We couldn’t stop Gasol inside. What are you going to do?” Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. “Then we go down and miss 12 free throws in an overtime game. If you get one of those in regulation, you win the game.”
The Jazz have now dropped three of their last four home games after opening the season 14-2 at EnergySolutions Arena.
Despite the recent struggles at home, Utah has reason to be confident with the Nuggets coming to town. The Jazz have won their last four games against Denver overall, and 29 of the last 33 matchups between the teams at Utah.
Utah also won at Denver on Jan. 6, riding Williams’ 28 points and 12 assists to a 96-84 victory.