Around the NBA: Don’t tell Iverson he’s supposed to be slowing down
At age 32 and after 11 years of pounding, Allen Iverson is supposed to be slowing down.
Someone might want to remind him of that. The Nuggets’ 6-foot guard showed how explosive he remains in his 12th season, totaling 86 points in back-to-back games against the Lakers and Mavericks.
“I’m tired of people saying he lost a step,” teammate Carmelo Anthony told the Denver Post. “Please stop saying that.”
Iverson played all 48 minutes of a home loss to the Lakers, scoring 51 points to go with eight assists. He had 49 points through three quarters but spent most of the fourth quarter setting up teammates as the point guard. He did a nice job finding open looks for others, but his teammates missed many shots. J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin were a combined 3-for-18.
Iverson came back the next night with 35 points, 12 assists and six steals in 43 minutes in a win at Dallas.
“I’m just trying to do whatever I can do for my team to win basketball games,” Iverson told the Denver Post. “I knew it was going to be tough to come in after playing 48 minutes. But once you get on the court, you don’t think about that, just the love for the game and the fact that you’re trying to do it for your team.”
What made Iverson’s output even more impressive was his efficiency. He shot 30-of-46 from the floor, finishing tough drives and hitting a variety of mid-range jumpers. He also made 26-of-31 fouls shots.
Cleveland, Chicago and Miami, expected to be three of the Eastern Conferences better teams, entered the weekend with a combined 18 wins. In fact, Washington, without Gilbert Arenas much of the season, has as many wins (nine) as the combined total of Chicago and Miami.
South Beach blues
The Heat had the league’s worst record through 18 games (4-14), and they don’t look ready to turn things around anytime soon.
“Until we accept that we’re ... one of the worst teams in the league — until they humble themselves to accept that — this isn’t going to change,” Heat Coach Pat Riley said after practice Wednesday. “If you think it’s going to change on its own because you have a bunch of high-profile names on the back, it ain’t going to.”
Unhappy big man
One of those “high-profile names” — Shaquille O’Neal — is in the midst of his worst season statistically and is not thrilled with the way he is being used.
O’Neal entered Friday with five straight games of fewer than 10 shots. The 35-year-old is averaging 15 points on 10.7 shots per game, both career lows. He is shooting 59.1 percent from the floor and said teammates need to find ways to get him the ball.
So did O’Neal plan to talk to teammates or Riley about getting him more involved? “I shouldn’t have to (expletive) communicate that,” he told the Miami Herald.
Need healthy bodies
The Cavaliers’ up-and-down start coincides with a variety of injuries and holdouts.
LeBron James has missed a week with a finger injury, and the Cavs took an assortment of beatings in his absence. Larry Hughes, Donyell Marshall and Eric Snow also have missed significant chunks of games. Hughes and Marshall remain out. A contract dispute cost Sasha Pavlovic the start of the season, while Anderson Varejao just came to terms with the team.
Coach Mike Brown has done his best to focus on the players available, but the Cavs need a full deck to compete nightly and make another run at the NBA Finals.
“Yes, we can win games,” Brown said this week. “But obviously we’re going to need to get some bodies healthy for us to get back to the level at which we were at the end of last year.”
Just a headache?
Cavs fans can dream about Jason Kidd coming to Cleveland, but it’s not likely.
When the Nets All-Star guard missed Wednesday’s loss to the Knicks with a migraine, the rumor mill began to churn. Yahoo Sports reported that Kidd essentially took a sick day to show how unhappy he is in New Jersey, and that he wanted to play with James in Cleveland.
Kidd held a news conference the next day to quiet rumors.
“The only thing I did was have a paid sick day,” he said. “Everybody’s taking notice, and everybody now says I don’t want to be here. I’m having one of my best seasons. Why would I want to ask to be traded? And as a team we’re doing better than last year.”
Even if Kidd was sending a message to the Nets and they try to move him, it will be tough for the Cavs to put together an attractive package.
- Miami rookie guard Daequan Cook set a season-high in scoring for a second straight week with 20 points in a loss at Portland. He did it on 9-for-11 shooting, making both 3-point shots.
- The Lakers play the Warriors twice this week — in L.A. Sunday on NBA TV and at Golden State on Friday on ESPN. It’s a big week for each team, with both also playing San Antonio. The Spurs visit Golden State on Tuesday and the Lakers on Thursday.
- Dallas entered the weekend 12-8, with losses in six of nine games. The Mavs didn’t lose their eighth last year until Game 35.
Reach Repository sports writer Chris Beaven at (330) 580-8345 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org