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Iverson rests in fourth after lighting up Nuggets

2/19/2002

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- By the time Allen Iverson's toe started
hurting again, the Philadelphia 76ers didn't need him anymore.

Iverson had 27 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, and
Dikembe Mutombo added 20 points on 9-for-9 shooting to lead the
Sixers to a 110-83 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Monday night.

Iverson, who sat out Philadelphia's 86-76 loss at Indiana on
Sunday because of a sprained right big toe, was listed as out
following the morning shootaround.

But he played after forwards Derrick Coleman and Corie Blount
were suspended for their roles in an altercation with Reggie Miller
on Sunday.

"I got here early, tried to run on it, and it was sore,"
Iverson said. "But it didn't bother me until halftime. My mobility
wasn't that good."

Avery Johnson and Raef LaFrentz each had 17 points for the
Nuggets, who lost their second straight after winning two in a row
on the road.

"I was hoping that we would come out with a higher sense of
urgency," Denver coach Mike Evans said.

The defending Eastern Conference champion Sixers snapped a
two-game losing streak and evened their record at 26-26. They lost
26 games all of last season.

Iverson hit two long jumpers in the opening minutes and scored
10 points in the first quarter as Philadelphia built a double-digit
lead that it never relinquished.

A 14-2 run midway through the second quarter put the Sixers
ahead 40-18. Iverson began the spurt with a 19-footer and a layup.
His alley-oop pass to 5-foot-11 Speedy Claxton for a dunk minutes
later excited the crowd, giving the Sixers a 45-24 lead.

"He knew we needed him," Philadelphia coach Larry Brown said
of Iverson. "I don't think there's any way we win the game if he
doesn't play."

Denver trailed by 18 at halftime, and didn't get any closer than
17 the rest of the way.

"He didn't seem a step slow to me," Nuggets guard James Posey
said of Iverson. "We thought he'd play. He always plays hard."

Iverson shot 11-for-21 and didn't play in the fourth quarter,
despite being one rebound and two assists away from his second
career triple-double.

"That's an individual accomplishment," Iverson said. "I've
done that."

Because of the suspensions to Coleman and Blount, Iverson's
uncertainty, and Aaron McKie's injury -- he sat out for the ninth
time in 10 games because of a sprained left ankle -- Brown was
forced to juggle his starting lineup.

Matt Harpring moved from small forward to power forward and had
12 points and 11 rebounds. Raja Bell started at small forward after
returning to the team earlier in the day, and finished with a
career-high 16 points.

Bell missed Sunday's game to be with his family in Florida
following the death of his sister Tombi's fiance, Chris Campbell,
the University of Miami linebacker killed Saturday morning in a
one-car accident.

"It was difficult," said Bell, who plans to return to Florida
for the funeral later this week.

Game notes
Denver guard Nick Van Exel missed his fourth straight game
because of inflammation of his left elbow. F Ryan Bowen sat out his
second consecutive game with a sprained left ankle. ... The Sixers
activated center Jabari Smith before the game and placed forward
Derrick McKey on the injured list with a left calf muscle. Smith
missed five games because of tendinitis in his left knee. He scored
a career-high 10 points. ... Iverson's only triple-double came in a
116-92 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Jan. 7. He had 30
points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. ... The Sixers outrebounded
Denver 59-34 and improved to 9-0 when scoring more than 100 points.