DENVER (AP) – It was just practice. Still, Allen Iverson didn’t want to go home.

He had too much to absorb. So he hung around with son Deuce, who turned 9 years old Saturday – as most of the Denver players took off. Iverson shot a few more jumpers, watched Carmelo Anthony go one-on-one with J.R. Smith and had a long talk with coach George Karl.

Iverson made his Nuggets debut Friday night in a 101-96 loss to the Sacramento Kings and realized he has a lot to learn.

“It’s tough when the point guard doesn’t know the plays,” he said. “I told coach to give me a wrist band that football players wear so I can know where I am on the court.”

Karl thought Iverson did just fine considering he arrived in town a couple of hours before the game, made a 1-hour, 45-minute chauffeured drive through traffic to the arena, underwent a rushed physical, got in a few quick jumpers and then took the floor. He finished with 22 points and 10 assists in more than 39 minutes.

“He did some things last night that were very instinctive and very smart,” Karl said.

All that despite the fact he’s been out for the past few weeks as the Sixers looked for someone interested in trading for him. Denver sent Andre Miller, Joe Smith and two first-round picks in 2007 to Philly for Iverson and Ivan McFarlin earlier in the week. The Nuggets waived McFarlin on Friday night.

“I haven’t been in the gym in a month,” Iverson said. “The only thing I did was shoot in my front yard. That’s it. I haven’t ran or played any basketball, not even one-on-one.”

Karl couldn’t believe it.

“For a guy that hasn’t played in 14 or 15 days to do what he did (Friday night), it shows he’s almost Superman,” Karl said.

But even Iverson has his Kryptonite – a zone defense. The Kings played exclusively zone against Denver and Iverson would frequently penetrate and kick the ball back out, only to have someone miss an open jumper. Iverson was 9-for-15 and the rest of his teammates combined to shoot 27-for-82 (33 percent).

“My teammates were as nervous as I was,” Iverson said. “Everybody was a little uptight.”

Anthony, who’s serving a 15-game suspension for his role in a brawl against the New York Knicks on Dec. 16, was watching from home, agonizing over what he was seeing. All those wide-open shots were tantalizing him.

“I was in the house, getting my wrists ready (to shoot the shots),” said Anthony, who went out to dinner with Iverson after the game. “I want to be out there so bad.”

Iverson said it was hard to go through practice Saturday, knowing that Anthony and Smith, who’s suspended for 10 games, can’t play, and that Marcus Camby is missing with a fractured ring finger on his right hand. Camby is listed as game-to-game.

“It’s kind of a tease,” Iverson said. “It’s tough thinking those guys are going to be out so long. I’ve never been on a team this good ever in my life.”

While Iverson is second in the league to Anthony in scoring average, his focus isn’t on winning another scoring crown. He’s already led the league in scoring four times.

“I want Melo to win it,” Iverson said. “I want him to have something like that on his resume because he deserves it. I’ll be right there to help accomplish that.”

Would he have said that eight years ago?

“It depends on when I won my first (scoring title),” he said with a grin. “After that, it didn’t matter. Eight years ago, I would’ve thought I would’ve won eight championships by now. I’m going to do anything it takes to win a championship.”

First things first, though – he still has to learn Denver’s offense.

“It was tough running around playing a system and not knowing it,” Iverson said. “I felt good about getting in here (Saturday) and learning a little more. I’m trying to figure out how the team plays and trying to fit in.”

AP-ES-12-23-06 1543EST


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