Iverson did not travel with the Nuggets (22-21) for Wednesday’s 100-91 loss at Portland (20-27) because of a sprained ankle, but he expects to return on Friday. This game would mark just the sixth time he and teammate Carmelo Anthony have played together.
Iverson came to Denver in December while Anthony was suspended for his role in the fight between the Knicks and the Nuggets. While the trade brought two of the league’s highest scoring players together, Denver is just 8-11 with Iverson in the lineup and only 2-3 with both him and Anthony on the floor.
Still, coach George Karl said the return of Iverson could be the difference maker for Friday’s game.
“Our penetration goes up 25 times a game,” Karl said. “No one can stop him from going where he wants to go.”
Without Iverson on Wednesday, the Nuggets played one of their poorer offensive games of the last few weeks. Anthony led the team with 33 points, but he and Marcus Camby, who added 17 points, were the only starters to score in double figures.
Nene Hilario scored 14 points off the bench for the Nuggets, who tied a season low with 13 assists and committed 19 turnovers.
It was the first time in nine games that Denver, which averages 105.5 points per game, was held below the century mark.
“With only 13 assists I don’t think you’ll win very many basketball games,” Karl said. “You’ve got to make a lot more plays with each other than that. We took way too many forced shots.”
Denver is shooting 26.6 percent (17-of-64) from 3-point range during its four-game skid.
A fifth consecutive defeat Friday means the Nuggets would match their longest losing streak of the season, set from Dec. 29-Jan. 6 while Anthony was suspended.
Denver is 12-12 at the Pepsi Center, where it will play three of its next four. Though the Nuggets have lost two straight and seven of 10 at home, Portland has lost six in a row and 12 of 13 at Denver.
The Blazers, however, are feeling confident after their fourth win in six games overall and first over the Nuggets since Feb. 2, 2005. Portland had lost the previous eight meetings.
“That was a big win,” said Joel Przybilla, who tied a season high with five blocked shots. “They’ve had our number the past couple of years.”
Leading scorer Zach Randolph, averaging 25.4 points over the last six games, had 26 points and a season-high 17 rebounds on Wednesday for his 28th double-double of the season.
Portland plays five of its next seven games on the road, where the team is 8-15 and has lost five of six.