for this game

Despite Iverson's debut, Kings hold off Nuggets

Dec 23, 2006 - 8:07 AM DENVER (Ticker) -- John Salmons and the Sacramento Kings weren't going to let Allen Iverson, a blizzard or the Nuggets spoil their all-day journey to Denver.

Salmons scored 21 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out 10 assists as the Kings posted a 101-96 victory over the Nuggets and the hoopla surrounding their new star.

Brad Miller had 21 points and 14 rebounds and Kevin Martin added 17 for Sacramento, which had to travel from Sacramento to Colorado on Friday because of a blizzard.

Iverson also reached Denver Friday but did not start. He still played 39 minutes, scored 22 points and handed out 10 assists.

The four-time scoring champion did not start the game, entering with 3:25 left in the first quarter to a rousing ovation from Nuggets fans.

"I get butterflies before a pickup game, so it's natural to me to have a few butterflies every game," Iverson said. "But I've never had butterflies like that. Then when the fans embraced me the way they did, I had it even more. I'm glad it's over."

The 2001 NBA Most Valuable Player made his first bucket with 1:23 remaining in the period, hitting a pull-up jumper from the left elbow over the outstretched arm of Salmons.

"It was tough for me in the beginning, especially the first two or three minutes of the game," Iverson said. "I'm just glad I'm done with the first game. It was tough because I had jet lag and car sickness."

The 31-year-old Iverson, who came into the contest No. 2 in the NBA in scoring this season at 31.2 points per game, shot 9-of-15 from the field, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range.

"He's a great player that's going to make everyone else better," Nuggets forward Eduardo Najera said. "He wants to win bad and that carries over to everyone else."

"It was a tough game and I really wanted to win it for A.I.," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "Still, the courage and intensity was good."

The Nuggets on Tuesday acquired Iverson from the Philadelphia 76ers for guard Andre Miller, forward Joe Smith and a pair of 2007 first-round draft picks.

The deal added to an already hectic week for the Nuggets, who learned Monday that star forward Carmelo Anthony was suspended 15 games by the NBA for his role in Denver's ugly brawl with the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden last Saturday.

"Wait until Carmelo comes back, because that is their real team," Kings guard Mike Bibby said.

The Kings, who lost, 126-119, to Washington on Thursday, had to land in Colorado Springs and then bus to Denver, arriving at Pepsi Center at 6:15 p.m. local time.

"Our biggest concern today was our travel," Kings coach Eric Musselman said. "We will never have a worse travel day than today. Our energy and effort was phenomenal. That was the best we moved the ball all year."

The Nuggets also had to deal with a huge snowstorm which paralyzed the Rocky Mountain area the last few days, canceling many sporting events, including Denver's game vs. Phoenix on Wednesday night.

Salmons shot 6-of-13 from the floor and Shareef Abdur-Rahim added 11 points and seven rebounds for Sacramento, which shot 44 percent (38-of-44).

"I felt good out there," Salmons said. "We're tired. The traveling and the altitude. It was a tough game, but it was a good game for us. We came out under a lot of adversity. We came in and stuck together and hung in there and got the win."

Earl Boykins had 25 points and nine assists and Reggie Evans added 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Nuggets, who have lost four of five to the Kings.

"It was fun," Evans said. "I think we are gonna come together real quick. I like him (Iverson). Sometimes you have got to get to know a person when you hear other people talking about certain people. I like his leadership and stuff like that, and that is what really impressed me about A.I. He is real focused and a good leader from what I saw. He jelled pretty good tonight with us."

"I wish it could have ended with a win," Iverson said.

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