Nuggets 131, Suns 107
Iverson scored 44 points and dished out 15 assists in leading the Nuggets to their fourth straight win, a 131-107 blowout of the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night.
Carmelo Anthony augmented Iverson’s night by adding 29 points in the duo’s best performance since the holiday trade that brought them together three months ago.
Now, the surging Nuggets hit the road for five straight games and eight of their next nine.
“This does a lot for our confidence,” Iverson said. “To win four games in a row, you get a certain swagger about your game.”
The Nuggets have quite the saunter thanks to their red-hot superstars.
Iverson made 16-of-22 shots from the field and Anthony was 13-for-20. And many of the shots were alley-oop dunks and rim-rattling jams that were the product of the Nuggets’ suddenly stingy defense.
“They made every shot in the world,” Suns coach Mike D’Antoni said. “They are hard to handle when Anthony and Iverson are coming at you like that. They are hard to handle on any night.”
At one point, both Iverson and Anthony were 12-for-16 from the floor.
“When you’re in a zone, it doesn’t matter if guys are on you or anything,” Iverson said. “It just feels good. It just feels like throwing rocks in an ocean.”
The Suns have lost twice—by a combined 46 points—since their 129-127 double-overtime win at Dallas on Wednesday night. They lost to Detroit 105-83 Friday night, which D’Antoni blamed on emotional exhaustion.
“We’re still feeling it,” Steve Nash said. “It was a big win. We have to get back to the way we were before that game.”
The Suns, who got 25 points from Leandro Barbosa, never led in this one and fell behind by 38 points entering the fourth quarter against a team that they might face in the first round of the playoffs next month.
“We didn’t have any energy,” Nash said. “They played with a lot of heart and energy and we weren’t. So I didn’t see any way we were going to get back into the game.”
Anthony had 19 points by halftime and Iverson had 13 points and 10 assists at the break as the Nuggets took a 70-44 lead into the locker room. Iverson’s drive to the basket made it 111-73 heading into the fourth quarter.
“That’s another confidence booster for us,” Anthony said. “To beat a team like that. You know one of the top teams, if not the top team. To beat a team like that is really a great deal for us. So we can take that momentum from this game and from the previous three games and take it on the road with us.”
The Suns had won 24 of 28 road games and had gone 9-1 against Denver in their past 10 meetings. They trailed 37-25 after one quarter and it only got worse from there in what was easily the Nuggets’ best game of the season.
The Nuggets shot 68 percent in the first half and the Suns shot just 33 percent.
“They played great,” D’Antoni said. “We’re in a little bit of a funk right now. Discombobulated. We have the regroup a little bit.”
Denver has struggled all season to get any cohesion because of injuries, illnesses, trades and suspensions. The Nuggets have started to put it together lately, and this was the night it finally all came together for them.
Anthony drew the foul and some of the loudest cheers of the night when his third attempt at a putback resulted in the whistle, and his two free throws made it 109-73 in the waning seconds of the third quarter.
Iverson said the Nuggets knew they’d have to start quickly and play relentless defense.
“That team can blow you out and they can score in bunches,” he said.
For once, it was the opposition that did both.
Iverson’s season-high is 46 points against Chicago on Nov. 24 while he was still with the Sixers. He also had 44 against Seattle on Dec. 28 in one of his first few games with the Nuggets. … Nash, the NBA’s assist leader at 11.6 a game, had just two assists in the first half one night after getting just one first-half assist against Detroit. … The Nuggets play just one more home game before April 4.