Updated: Jan. 3, 2007, 1:48 PM ET

Sixers have final Answer

Rolling out some answers after "The Revenge of A.I." episode showing at the Pepsi Center on Wednesday night in Denver had an ending that turned out in his old team's favor. Allen Iverson (30 points, nine assists, seven turnovers) saw his Nuggets swatted 108-97 by the team that traded him, the Sixers...

Getting run by referee Steve Javie shortly before losing to his old team was probably not how A.I. scripted this one.

There's some frustration. You don't spend over a decade with a team and then see that game happen. Getting thrown out of the game was icing on the cake. You couldn't have written a better script for the Sixers, to ruin his night in Denver.

Before the game, Iverson expressed frustration that his views were not taken into consideration by Sixers coach Mo Cheeks, even as Philly was reeling.

Your franchise players are usually given a little more opportunity to offer guidance in the thought process of a team. A franchise player likes to think he knows a little bit about the game.

Like Iverson's view that Andre Iguodala isn't suited for point guard?

I don't think Iguodala is going to be a point guard, either. It's not his skill set.

If Cheeks had to win one game this year, was this the one?

Yeah, it'll go a long way for the psyche of the entire franchise. This is the one where they were able to hold it together.

The Sixers are now 4-4 since the trade. The Nuggets are 2-4.

A lot of those guys in Philadelphia had something to prove. They can take Iverson's demand to leave as an attack on them collectively as players. Players have pride and they showed that Tuesday night.

Andre Miller had 17 points, 10 assists and four steals in his return to Denver. Joe Smith's 12 points and eight boards didn't hurt.

Miller is a top-10 point guard in the league. Along with Smith, those were two rotation players for a playoff team.

On the bright side, only three games till J.R. Smith returns.

It helps having his scoring at upwards of 18 points per game. Still, it's going to take time to adjust.

And eight more games till Melo's back. Will the Nuggets, now 16-13, still be over .500 when he returns?

Yes, I think so. But it's not a given -- it's not going to be easy.

Do you think No. 3's intensity can be a blessing and a curse?

For all of Iverson's greatness, he is the hardest star in the league to play with -- he's so intimidating even at 6 feet and 160-odd pounds.

Greg Anthony appears on "NBA Shootaround" with Fred Hickman and Tim Legler on Friday (ESPN, 7:30 p.m ET).

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I Like You Guys Too, But Be Careful
Leandro Barbosa
Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty Images
Suns guard Leandro Barbosa is mobbed by his teammates after hitting the winning 3-point shot with 1.5 seconds remaining, giving his team a 97-96 win in Chicago.


Breaking Down A.I.'s Approach

After made baskets, if the Nuggets can't get an easy shot out of their early offense, look for Allen Iverson to play his more customary role off the ball, with Earl Boykins playing the point.

In the half court, coach George Karl loves two-man games like pin-downs (down screens) and side pick-and-rolls and pick-and-pops. When Carmelo Anthony returns, it is fair to assume that A.I.-Melo two-man games are going to be a common part of Denver's half-court set. If Anthony's man hedges hard to control Iverson's drive, A.I. will simply pass to Melo in open space -- a scary thought to any defense.

Complete David Thorpe story Insider



Ringing Endorsement Of 2006 Playoffs

Yet I'm pretty sure, if anyone asks me what I'll remember most about 2006, that it'll be a one-word answer.

Playoffs.

The word is not to be said with a Mora-like tone of incredulity. There's no question mark there.

I mean playoffs!

As in: Best postseason of my adult life.

In nearly 15 years covering this league, I've never seen start-to-finish drama like it. We saw three one-point games in the Cavaliers-Wizards series alone, all won by LeBron James' Cavs in his first-ever taste of the playoffs. We had Phoenix resurrecting itself from a couple killer Kobe buzzer-beaters, overturning a 3-1 deficit to the Lakers in the same round. We watched Cleveland take a shocking 3-2 lead over Detroit in Round 2, only for the Pistons to pull it out in seven. We witnessed Dallas surrendering a 3-1 lead to hated San Antonio -- and then losing all of its 20-point lead in Game 7 on the road -- before the Mavs finally KO'd their longtime Texas rivals in overtime.

Complete Marc Stein blog Insider


Records At A Glance




Suns Beat Bulls With Late 3-Pointer

Barbosa's last-second 3-pointer wins it, 97-96


Familiar Eject Buttons
Allen Iverson
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Allen Iverson stands next to referee Steve Javie, who ejected A.I. late in the Sixers' win. "His fuse is real short anyway, and I should have known that I couldn't say anything anyway," Iverson said. "It's been something personal with me and him since I got in the league. This was just the perfect game for him to try and make me look bad."




Extreme Behavior
Amare Stoudemire

Wednesday's Best
Kings forward Ron Artest: After three lackluster games since returning from an acute case of achin' knees, he led the beating of his hometown Knicks, 112-100. Finished with 39 points, eight rebounds and five steals. Artest made 15 of his first 19 shots. Iced the knees, and iced three 3s.

Reggie Evans

Wednesday's Worst
Nuggets forward Reggie Evans: Nine rebounds in 11 minutes? Impressive. Missing shots less than a yardstick from the hoop? Not so much. Five field goal attempts. Nothing. Six free throws, just two makes.

Quote of the Day
"It is so weird to see him on the other side. It wasn't really a good feeling at all. He's a great player and he meant a lot to Philadelphia."
-- Sixers forward Kyle Korver, on facing Allen Iverson.

See how all 137 who played stacked up

-- Andrew Ayres



Thorpe Speed: Anatomy Of A Winning Shot
Leandro Barbosa

LEG UP: On Leandro Barbosa's game-winning 3, Steve Nash used his left leg in a tripping movement to force Ben Gordon inside and give Barbosa the space he needed to pull the shot. Had Gordon not tried to avoid Nash's leg and allowed himself to be tripped, I'm not sure if the officials would have called the foul on Nash, although it was clear that he was a moving screener. "Stripes" hate to make game-deciding calls on off-the-ball actions.

HEADY RON: Watch how Ron Artest measures up his offensive counterparts. Sometimes he aggressively attacks them and forces mistakes, but he is also an opportunistic on steals, waiting for a casual dribbler or passer before he pounces. Yes, he has long arms and quick feet, but he is second in the NBA in steals because of his head (I can't believe I wrote that, but it's true).

BALL WATCH: Some of the scorers who had figured out shots and backboard angles that worked with the synthetic ball will take a few games before they remove those shots from their repertoire. Grooving them since April, they have become second nature.

-- David Thorpe



Ford Escorts Raps

Steve (New York): You guys have been ducking my question about T.J. Ford for weeks. Don't you think it's time people start giving him some props and credit Bryan Colangelo for trading for him? Ford has been pretty huge for Toronto since Chris Bosh went out.

Marc Stein: Here you go. I was right there with Professor Hollinger (and others) questioning the wisdom of trading big for small (Charlie Villanueva for Ford) and I also thought Toronto looked a lot more fluid with Jose Calderon at the point when I saw the Raps in person in late November. But Ford had a very good December and so did the Raps, all things considered. I'm gullible enough to believe that they can win the Atlantic now if Bosh indeed returns this week and avoids further setbacks, since your boys have played so many road games already.

Full Marc Stein chat Insider



Joining Old Man Winters

In the loss to the Suns, Bulls guard Ben Gordon became the second player since the NBA merger in '76-77 to record two 40-point games off the bench in the same season.

Former Bucks guard Brian Winters had two such games during the '81-82 season.

-- Michael E. Jackson, ESPN Research

 

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