Carmelo Anthony's suspension is over. Let the suspense begin.

The day after the NBA's leading scorer was banned for 15 games for fighting, the Denver Nuggets acquired seven-time all-star Allen Iverson, who was the league's second-leading scorer at the time, from the Sixers.

Can the two high-scoring superstars coexist?

Sure, Iverson said, insisting he's carried the load for so long in his career that he's ready to serve as wingman to the 22-year-old Anthony.

"I've never played with nobody that good," Iverson said.

Anthony hasn't, either, and he, too, swears there won't be any problems playing alongside A.I. After all, he thrived with the U.S. team at the World Championships last summer while playing with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

Anthony, who returns from his 36-day absence tonight when the Nuggets face the Memphis Grizzlies in Denver, said in an open letter of apology to fans and the team yesterday that he'll return a better player and a better person.

"I have been going crazy for 36 days waiting to return," he wrote. ". . . I've spent the time working extremely hard . . . I've also spent time thinking about the huge responsibilities I have . . . I'm aware that a great deal is expected of me, and not just as a player."

Denver coach George Karl thinks it will work.

"They are both great offensive players," Karl said. " . . . I think great players like to play with great players."

Former Nuggets player Ruben Patterson, now with the Bucks, isn't so sure things will click.

"There's only one NBA basketball," he said. "I don't know how they're going to get all those shots off."

Nets' Jefferson faces surgery. New Jersey Nets forward Richard Jefferson will have surgery on his right ankle today, and will be sidelined indefinitely.

Yesterday's games

Mavericks 99, Heat 93

MIAMI - Jerry Stackhouse scored 16 of his 23 points in the final quarter as Dallas withstood Miami.

Josh Howard had 25 points for Dallas.

Dwyane Wade finished with 31 points for Miami, but missed a potentially game-tying three-pointer with 5.8 seconds left.

Wade played despite spraining his ankle with 43 seconds remaining in the first quarter. He was not sure of his status for tonight's game against the Knicks.

"It's pretty sore," he said. "I'll try to go home and ice it and hopefully it feels better."

Shaquille O'Neal was inactive for the 34th straight game because of his knee surgery. He has practiced and gone through conditioning drills.

Heat rookie Robert Hite, charged with driving under the influence early yesterday in Miami Beach, was not in the arena.

"I don't know anything about it. I don't know where he is," Heat interim coach Ron Rothstein said.

Suns 131, Timberwolves 102

PHOENIX - Shawn Marion had 17 points and 20 rebounds, then sat out the fourth quarter as Phoenix routed a depleted Minnesota squad.

The Timberwolves were without their top two scorers, Kevin Garnett and Ricky Davis, both on one-game suspensions. Garnett was suspended for throwing a punch at Detroit's Antonio McDyess on Friday. Davis was suspended for leaving the bench early.

Randy Foye led Minnesota with 25 points.Amare Stoudemire had 25 to lead the Suns.

Trail Blazers 99, Bucks 95

PORTLAND, Ore. - Rookie Brandon Roy had 28 points to help Portland over shorthanded Milwaukee.

Earl Boykins had 28 points for the Bucks, who had just 10 healthy players.

Milwaukee was without forward Brian Skinner (stomach virus), Michael Redd (strained tendon), Mo Williams (shoulder sprain), Bobby Simmons (heel surgery) and Charlie Villanueva (tendinitis).