After announcing the 10-time All-Star would miss the rest of the season with a sore back, the struggling Pistons continue their fight for a playoff berth Saturday when they visit the Philadelphia 76ers.
Iverson came off the bench in the last three games after missing the previous 16. He was limited to four points and 1-for-8 shooting in 17 minutes of a 111-98 loss at New Jersey on Wednesday night, and complained about his role with the team afterward.
Two days later, the Pistons (36-39) announced Iverson was being shut down.
“After talking with Allen and our medical staff, we feel that resting Allen for the remainder of the season is the best course of action at this time,” Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars said in a statement.
“While he has played in our last three games, he is still feeling some discomfort and getting him physically ready to compete at the level he is accustomed to playing this late in the season does not seem possible at this point.”
Leon Rose, Iverson’s agent, insisted Iverson’s health was the only factor in the decision.
“There’s nothing else going on,” Rose said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
Iverson, acquired from Denver in an early season trade for Chauncey Billups, has a contract worth more than $20 million expiring after this season. He has probably played his last game with the Pistons.
In his absence, Detroit will likely need someone else to step up to help it avoid falling further back in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Pistons have dropped eight of 11 to fall into seventh place, a half-game ahead of Chicago.
“We have seven games left and hopefully, we can do it,” second-year guard Rodney Stuckey said after the loss to the Nets. “I really don’t know how to explain this. We just have to find ourselves. Either we want to go to the playoffs or we want to go home.”
The Sixers (39-35) are close to clinching a spot in the postseason, but they’re still battling for position. They helped themselves by outscoring Milwaukee 25-16 in the fourth quarter of a 105-95 victory Thursday night.
“Fourth quarters have been big and that’s really important,” coach Tony DiLeo said. “Down the stretch, we played with a sense of urgency.”
The only time in the last five games when Philadelphia didn’t outscore the opposition in the fourth quarter came in a 101-97 loss at Detroit on Sunday. Sixers forward Andre Iguodala had 27 points, seven rebounds and five assists in that game, but the Pistons shot 52.8 percent and had five players reach double figures in scoring, led by Tayshaun Prince’s 21.
The Sixers, winners of six of seven at home, beat the Pistons 96-91 in Detroit in their first meeting Dec. 5 behind 19 points from point guard Andre Miller. Miller sprained his middle finger in Thursday’s win but isn’t expected to miss any games.
This would have been Iverson’s second game in Philadelphia as a visitor. The Sixers selected him with the first overall pick in the 1996 draft, and the 6-foot guard out of Georgetown led the team to six playoff berths in 10 full seasons with the club, including a trip to the finals in 2001. He was the NBA MVP that season, one of four with the 76ers in which he was the league scoring champion.