The Detroit Pistons have been searching for reliable backups for All-Star guards Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton for years.
They might have finally found them.
With Hamilton sidelined with a sore hip, rookies Rodney Stuckey and Arron Afflalo stepped up to help Iverson's team end Phoenix's seven-game winning streak with a 110-105 overtime victory Monday night.
Reserve guard Juan Dixon (calf) was also out, and Lindsey Hunter had only played once since Christmas, so there was a lot riding on the rookies. Afflalo started and played tough defense on Steve Nash, while Stuckey provided key offense in the second half and overtime.
"This game is another vindication for the young guys," said Billups, who scored nine of his 32 points in overtime. "I have an unbelievable amount of confidence in those guys."
Stuckey hit three jumpers in 60 seconds to give Iverson's team a 80-73 lead with 11:11 to play, and kept the final possession of regulation alive with an offensive rebound.
"That's easily the best game he's had," Billups said. "He hit some shots, he played good defense and he got some tough rebounds."
Stuckey missed the first 25 games of the season with a broken left hand, so he's happy to get important minutes against a good team.
"Every game like this is going to help me for the playoffs," he said. "I've been working hard on my jumper and it paid off tonight."
For Nash's team, the loss was doubly frustrating since they face the Eastern Conference-leading Celtics on Wednesday.
"This would have been huge for us in the Western Conference, but it obviously wasn't in the cards," coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Now we have to go to Boston and try to get one there."
Nash's team was unhappy with the officiating all night - Amare Stoudemire picked up a technical in the first quarter - but it was especially disappointed in some late calls.
First, a foul on Nash resulted in Billups' three-point play that gave Iverson's team a 107-105 lead with 1:01 left in overtime.
"I think he panicked," Nash said of the official. "He kind of stuttered and then he said: 'You were underneath him.' It's tough to take when you feel like you played well enough to win, but you feel like the win was taken away from you."
After Nash missed a shot, Shaquille O'Neal fouled Antonio McDyess on the rebound and McDyess hit both free throws to give Iverson's team a four-point advantage.
"I would have liked to see some consistency in the calls," O'Neal said. "They (Iverson's team) had help, there's no two ways about it."
Wallace had 23 points and nine rebounds for Iverson's team, while Stoudemire led Nash's team with 33.
The game was close throughout the first half, with neither team leading by more than five points. After 14 lead changes and 16 ties, Iverson's team took a 51-50 lead into the intermission.
Not much changed in the third, with Stuckey's late jumper giving Iverson's team a 76-73 lead at the end of the quarter. Iverson's team expanded the lead to seven in the opening seconds of the fourth.
Nash answered with two baskets and an assist in a 10-2 run that tied it with 5:35 to play.
O'Neal's three-point play gave Nash's team a 90-87 lead, but Grant Hill missed a pair of free throws that could have given Nash's team a cushion. That let Billups tie it with a pair from the line with 1:31 left.