With Iverson and Anthony banged up, though, their teammates may be forced to step up Wednesday as the Nuggets try to continue their recent dominance of the Portland Trail Blazers.
Iverson (sprained right ankle) and Anthony (sprained left wrist) were both hurt in a 105-101 loss to Charlotte on Monday night, the third straight defeat for Denver (22-20).
The Nuggets said Iverson did not travel with the team Tuesday and will miss this game.
Anthony, meanwhile, said he was sore but hopes to play against the Trail Blazers (19-27), who the Nuggets have beaten eight straight times since a 97-94 loss on Feb. 2, 2005.
The Nuggets are 2-3 with Anthony, who recently came off a 15-game suspension, and Iverson in the lineup together. Denver coach George Karl, though, insists the coupling of two of the NBA’s top scorers isn’t a problem.
“When things were going good, everybody was saying it was working right away, but it’s going to take some time,” Anthony said. “I don’t want to make any excuses right now but it is going to take some time.
“I’m back off of a 30 days’ (absence) and I’m still trying to get my rhythm, get my flow. My teammates are trying to get used to me back out there on the court. When I was out, they had different roles out there.”
Kleiza, Denver’s first-round pick in 2005, would likely start if Anthony can’t play Wednesday and Smith will probably take Iverson’s place in the lineup.
Iverson said the key to ending Denver’s skid is to step up on defense. The Nuggets have given up an average of 111.2 points in their last four games after holding opponents under 100 points in seven of their previous eight contests.
“When you play good defense, it turns into excellent offense,” Iverson said.
Portland will play three of its next four at home after a 1-2 road trip, which ended with a 103-91 loss to New Orleans on Monday night.
“We are not good enough to just win off of talent,” said Blazers guard Brandon Roy, a top candidate for rookie of the year. “We have to outwork teams.”
Zach Randolph, who had a career-high 42 points in Portland’s double-overtime win at Memphis a night earlier, led the Blazers with 20 points and 13 rebounds Monday. Roy added 19 points, Juan Dixon had 15 and Ime Udoka 14.
Randolph had a season-low four points and Roy was held to nine in the first meeting between these teams this season, a 109-93 Nuggets win on Jan. 14. Randolph has been held to a combined 15 points while shooting 22.2 percent (6-for-27) from the field in his last two games against Denver.
Portland rookie LaMarcus Aldridge missed Monday’s game because of the flu and his status for this contest is uncertain.