Smith out with torn cartilage in knee |

Smith out with torn cartilage in knee

DENVER ” The Denver Nuggets will be without guard J.R. Smith for three to four weeks after he tore cartilage in his left knee in a loss to San Antonio, the team announced Wednesday.

Smith, who left Tuesday’s game in the second quarter, was scheduled to have arthroscopic surgery on the torn meniscus later Wednesday.

The 6-foot-6 Smith is third on the team in scoring (15.4 points) and leads the team in 3-pointers with 114.

“J.R. has had a good year for us,” coach George Karl said after practice. “I think a lot of people have been surprised by his contribution, and he seems to be getting better every game.”

Smith missed 10 games earlier in the season when he was suspended by the league for his role in a brawl with the New York Knicks on Dec. 16.

Karl said he may start Allen Iverson at point guard and bring Steve Blake in off the bench to compensate for the loss of Smith.

“We’re going to change our personality a little bit,” Karl said. “I’m thinking about tinkering with the lineup a little bit, trying to get A.I. more aggressive, more assertive in the game. It seems like he’s being too passive for me.”

Part of the reason for that is Iverson’s balky right ankle. Iverson missed eight of the Nuggets’ last nine games before the All-Star break with the ankle sprain. He came back against San Antonio on Tuesday night and scored nine points.

However, Iverson took a fall against the Spurs, bruising his hip and hurting his elbow. He wore protective padding on his left elbow at practice Wednesday.

Asked how he felt, Iverson grinned.

“Is that a trick question?” he said. “I’m not 100 percent, but if I’m out there on the basketball court, I don’t have any excuses. Nobody goes through the season 100 percent. I’ve been banged up all my career, and I have no excuses.”

Iverson said Smith’s contributions will be missed.

“We’re losing a lot ” a great 3-point shooter, somebody that can finish on the break, somebody that plays the game hard,” Iverson said. “We’re just so snake-bitten.”

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