Iverson, Brand help 76ers hold off Nuggets

DENVER -- Allen Iverson had a pleasant trip down memory lane -- at the Denver Nuggets' expense.

Iverson scored 17 points, Elton Brand added 16 and the 76ers held off a furious rally to beat the injury-riddled Denver Nuggets 108-105 on Sunday night.

It was Iverson's third win against the team that traded him to Detroit three games into the 2008-09 season, and two of those have come in Denver.

"It's great to come back," said Iverson, who led the 76ers in scoring for the first time since re-signing Dec. 2. "The fans still have love for me."

Nene had 24 points and 15 rebounds, and Ty Lawson finished with 23 points and nine assists for the Nuggets, who have lost six of eight.

The Nuggets played their second game in two nights without their top two scorers. Carmelo Anthony (right knee contusion) and Chauncey Billups (left groin strain) were in street clothes. Billups has missed seven of the last eight games since he was hurt Dec. 16 against Houston.

Anthony said after the game his injury was more serious than first thought and he doesn't know if he will play Tuesday against Golden State.

"I'm hopeful," he said. "I think it was worse than a lot of people expected."

Denver's rotation got even shorter when reserve forward Chris Andersen left the game with a sprained ankle midway through the second quarter and did not return.

"You've got your leading scorer down, your leader, and now your energy guy," Lawson said. "It's tough."

Andersen left the Pepsi Center in a walking cast. Coach George Karl said Andersen would probably sit out Tuesday and against Cleveland on Friday.

"He'll probably be out this week, but we'll know more tomorrow," he said.

Even without three of their top eight players, the Nuggets nearly pulled out a win. The 76ers led 105-94 with 3:12 remaining when Arron Afflalo scored five straight points to kick off a 9-0 run that cut the lead to two with 31.8 seconds left.

Andre Iguodala hit a free throw with 15.6 seconds left to make it 106-103, and Lawson's driving layup with 11 seconds left again made it a one-point game. Willie Green and Iguodala hit a foul shot each to make it 108-105 with 4.9 seconds left, and Afflalo's 3-pointer rimmed out as the 76ers escaped with their third win in four games.

Denver's first option was to go to J.R. Smith but Philadelphia denied him a chance to tie the game.

"He would have made it if he got open," said Afflalo, who had 17 points. "I got a good look at it."

Philadelphia didn't relax until Afflalo's shot was no good.

"My heart is still beating like a rabbit running across a field," coach Eddie Jordan said. "We are just beginning to go uptown. You never know what this can take us. We hope it gets us going."

The 76ers took the lead for good with a 16-0 run that spanned the third and fourth quarters. Jason Smith hit a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to give Philadelphia an 82-76 lead, and Green followed with a jumper with 30.7 seconds left in the period.

The 76ers scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter, capped by Rodney Carney's 3-pointer, to push the lead to 91-76 with 10:16 left.

Denver, which led 76-75 with 3:14 left in the third, went 5:24 without scoring.

Philadelphia led 96-80 early in the fourth before the Nuggets rallied.

"Except from about the 5-minute mark of the third quarter to the 7-minute mark of the fourth quarter we played good basketball," Karl said. "And they had a stretch where guys were making shots against good defense, against shot clock running out. The luck of the game turned against us a little bit when they got the big lead."

Denver led most of the first half before Philadelphia made a run at the end of the second quarter. Iverson, who had just three points in the first period, scored seven points in the final 2:16 to help Philadelphia take a 59-55 lead with 42.4 seconds left before the break.

Lawson scored the final five points of the half to give Denver a 60-59 lead.

The Nuggets hit 14 of their last 16 shots in the first quarter, including nine in a row, before Martin missed a desperation heave at the buzzer.

Afflalo, who is averaging 7.7 points a game, had nine points in the first period to help the Nuggets take a 36-27 lead heading into the second.

Game notes
The Nuggets missed 12 of 29 foul shots. ... Nene recorded his eighth double-double of the season and 68th of his career. His 15 rebounds were a season high. ... Iverson was honored with a video tribute during a timeout in the first quarter.