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Iverson Leads Nuggets Past Dirk

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DALLAS (AP) - On a night when Allen Iverson had his first 30-point, 10-assist game this season and Dirk Nowitzki matched his season high with 32 points, the historical footnote comes from the little black wire hardly visible on the ties of their coaches and the ones tucked inside the jerseys of two other players.

The microphones.

The NBA began a fan-oriented, electronic invasion into previously off-limits aspects Thursday night by allowing listening devices on the court, in-game sideline interviews with coaches and cameras in the locker rooms during pregame and halftime chats. This will only happen on games nationally televised by TNT, ABC and ESPN, and the very first was Denver's 122-109 victory over Dallas.

Iverson was the star of the show, scoring 35 points and dishing out 12 assists one night after scoring 51 points in a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

``A.I. had it all going from everywhere,'' Nowitzki said. ``He was driving and making shots in-between.''

In the other games Thursday, Atlanta edged Minnesota 90-89 and Portland beat Miami 112-106.

Iverson made 12 of 19 field goals and was 11-for-13 from the line. It was his sixth time scoring 30 points and his fourth time with at least 10 assists. However, this was his first 30-10 game of the season.

``I thought A.I. had a real good feel for the game,'' Nuggets coach George Karl said. ``His game is to get to the free-throw line and to run. Dallas tried to get the ball out of his hands. He definitely did a good job getting the guys involved.''

Karl and Dallas coach Avery Johnson said before the game they were only wearing microphones because they have to, reflecting an attitude shared by colleagues throughout the league. Lakers coach Phil Jackson compared it to Big Brother watching, Pat Riley called it an invasion of privacy and Pistons coach Flip Saunders wondered how strategy can be avoided in anything that comes from a locker room.

``What's public, what's private on TV?'' Karl said.

The microphones are only part of some new rules aimed at taking fans a step closer to the action whenever TNT, ESPN or ABC cameras arrive. Other changes:

  • Remote-controlled cameras in the locker room can capture pregame, halftime and postgame discussions.


  • Players will be asked to wear microphones, too. Dallas' Jerry Stackhouse and Denver's Eduardo Najera became the pioneers Thursday night.


  • Coaches will be subject to interviews during the game, the visiting coach talking between the first and second quarters, the home coach between the third and fourth.


``I wouldn't say (I'm) ready. But with the company I work for, it's mandatory,'' Johnson said. ``We just have to adjust.''

While the utterances broadcast Thursday night were somewhat historic because they were firsts, they weren't very revealing. Among the insights: Karl saying, ``When we pass the ball, we usually play well,'' and Mavericks coach Avery Johnson telling his team during an early timeout, ``Good hustle, men, keep it up.''

The Mavericks didn't, allowing their most points this season in a quarter (39, the first), a half (64) and a game. The problems were at both ends of the court as the Mavericks also committed a season-high 19 turnovers.

``It was a layup drill out there,'' Nowitzki said. ``At no point in the game I thought we could really stop them.''

Linas Kleiza benefited from Iverson's passing, scoring a season-best 23. Carmelo Anthony had 23 points and Kenyon Martin, a Dallas native, had 18 points and seven rebounds. Marcus Camby added 14 rebounds and eight points. Denver made 50.5 percent of its shots and that was with Anthony going 9-for-30.

For all his statistical prowess, Iverson's most impressive number might've been his game-best playing time of 42:54. Now in his 12th season, the 32-year-old guard played a full 48 minutes the previous night in a loss at home to the Los Angeles Lakers.

``He's the Energizer bunny,'' said fellow starting guard Anthony Carter. ``He just doesn't get tired. He was charged up for this game.''

Stackhouse scored a season-high 23 points and Josh Howard had 20. Howard had 17 at halftime, then got his fourth foul seconds into the third quarter and didn't score again until there was 8:18 left in the game.

  • Hawks 90, Timberwolves 89


Joe Johnson's 18-footer at the buzzer helped host Atlanta avoid an embarrassing defeat.

Minnesota, which lost its fifth straight to drop to a league-worst 2-15, had a one-point lead after Marko Jaric's laying with 2.2 seconds left.

Josh Smith had 28 points and seven blocks to lead Atlanta. Johnson added 21 points, and Marvin Williams finished with 20.

Craig Smith scored 20 points for the Timberwolves, and rookie Corey Brewer had 18 rebounds; two more than Al Jefferson's previous season high in a loss to Atlanta on Nov. 24.

  • Trail Blazers 112, Heat 106


Brandon Roy had 25 points, Travis Outlaw had 20 and Portland handed visiting Miami its fourth straight loss.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 14 points and 10 rebounds and reserve James Jones had all of his 14 points in the first half for the Trail Blazers, who had lost their past five meetings against the Heat.

Dwyane Wade had 21 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists for Miami, but he shot 9-for-26 from the field. Daequan Cook had 20 and Ricky Davis had 18. Shaquille O'Neal had just eight points and 10 rebounds in 22 foul-plagued minutes.
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