OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- If Allen Iverson was tired, he wasn't
saying so after struggling in the Denver Nuggets' loss to the New
Iverson scored 21 points but was just 6-of-22 from the field,
including a number of fourth-quarter misses that helped the Hornets
rally for a 99-89 victory Friday night.
The Nuggets didn't arrive at their hotel until 5 a.m. after
escaping a snowstorm in Denver following their victory over Seattle
on Thursday night. After leading 81-76, Denver scored just eight
points in the final 9½ minutes.
"There's no excuses. That was a game we were supposed to win,"
Iverson said. "I stunk it up. I can't play that way and expect us
to win basketball games."
Iverson had averaged 31 points in his first three games with
Denver, but never got going against the Hornets in a matchup of
depleted teams. New Orleans was without four of its top five
offensive players, including Chris Paul. Denver also was four
players short, including Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith, who are
"We approached it the right way, we knew they were going to
come out and fight without their guys," Iverson said. "We just
couldn't get it done. We struggled so bad offensively, and in the
fourth quarter we just couldn't get it done defensively."
Rasual Butler scored 20 points, including a big three-point play
in the closing minutes, as the Hornets ended a three-game losing
streak. Devin Brown, picked up as a free agent a week ago, had 19
points, 10 rebounds and seven assists while helping guard Iverson
at the other end. Desmond Mason scored 17.
Earl Boykins led the Nuggets with 26 but scored just eight in
the second half.
Butler made a 3-pointer to cap a 10-2 run that gave New Orleans
an 86-83 lead. Iverson's two free throws with 2:24 to play brought
the Nuggets within 88-87, but they didn't score again until the
Butler converted his three-point play for a 91-87 lead, and
after Iverson's turnover, found Tyson Chandler on a cut to the
basket that pushed the lead to six with 1:39 left.
Chandler then blocked two straight shots by Eduardo Najera,
leading to a drive by Mason that gave the Hornets a 95-87 lead with
just under a minute left.
"We tried to keep Allen out of the paint as much as possible
and make their guys shoot jump shots," Hornets coach Byron Scott
said. "I wanted us to contest their shots a little more. We needed
to be a little bit closer to those guys, and I think that affected
Boykins made a jumper and a driving shot in a 6-0 run that gave
the Nuggets their 81-76 lead. But he and Iverson took turns missing
from the perimeter during the next four minutes as the Hornets
Boykins scored 16 in the second quarter. He had 12 of the
Nuggets' first 15 second-quarter points to keep Denver in front,
and later added four straight in a 7-0 spurt that gave them an
Najera, who played his college ball at Oklahoma, secured
about 30 tickets for friends and relatives. Najera makes his home
in Edmond, just north of Oklahoma City. ... Nuggets coach George
Karl said he heard from several former coaches and players after
picking up his 800th victory Thursday night. Mitch Kupchak told him
"there was a day he thought I wouldn't get eight." ... The
Hornets won for just the fourth time in 14 games in December.