PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 30 (Ticker) -- Wally Szczerbiak
looked like an All-Star in the first quarter. Allen Iverson
looked like an All-Star in the fourth quarter.
Iverson scored 12 of his 38 points in the final period, including a clutch jumper with 28 seconds to play, as the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the slumping Minnesota Timberwolves, 96-91.
Named to his first All-Star team Tuesday, Szczerbiak bounced back from an awful performance that night in Cleveland to score 31 points. He had 16 points in the first period, when Minnesota bolted to a 25-18 lead.
But Szczerbiak scored just two points in the fourth quarter, when Iverson took over. The three-time All-Star scored on a variety of layups and jumpers, leading Philadelphia to its eighth victory in 10 games.
NBA.comTV highlights from Timberwolves-Sixers:
Allen Iverson had it all working to help the Sixers take their fourth win in five games.
Jesse D. Garrabrant
Iverson's biggest basket came in the final minute, pulling up on the left wing for an 18-footer that gave the 76ers a 92-88 lead. Szczerbiak missed a 3-pointer and Iverson added two free throws with 16 seconds left to seal it.
"I wasn't getting the calls going to the basket, so I knew I wasn't going in there, because the shot was so meaningful," Iverson said. "I had been going in there and getting knocked to the floor and wasn't getting the calls. I just tried to make them think I was going to drive and get a little bit of space."
"AI hit a big shot at the end and put us in a pressure situation and we didn't recover," Minnesota All-Star forward Kevin Garnett
had 18 points and nine rebounds and Matt Harpring
added 16 and nine for the Sixers, who gained a split of the season series after losing at Minnesota on opening night. Iverson was injured and did not play in that game. "It's a good win for us," Coleman said. "We were able to put the ball in the basket in the latter stages of the game."
"We're winning some close games now," Harpring said. "Earlier in the season, we weren't winning close games. When it comes down to the final minutes in tough games, we're making shots, and obviously we need to do that if we're going to be a playoff team."
Garnett scored a quiet 18 points and Rasho Nesterovic
added 12 and 12 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who have dropped four of five since winning 11 of 12. Minnesota fell to 29-2 when leading after three periods.
"Every team goes through a period where they lose a couple of games," Garnett said. "Right now, I think it's all mental, which is kind of weird. We're a team that deals with adversity well, so hopefully we can turn this thing around soon."
A difficult layup by Iverson and two free throws by Coleman made it 77-77 with 7:47 remaining. Anthony Peeler
hit a 3-pointer, but jump shots by Coleman and Iverson gave Philadelphia an 81-80 edge. There were four ties and three lead changes in the quarter.
Szczerbiak's only basket of the fourth quarter gave Minnesota an 86-86 tie with 2:35 left. Harpring made a tough lefthanded layup and Garnett hit a pull-up jumper to tie it for the last time with 1:55 to go.
The teams traded misses before Eric Snow's
missed layup was put home by Dikembe Mutombo
with 56 seconds to play. Mutombo had 10 points and 11 rebounds.
"Eric Snow drove and tried to put the ball in the basket," Mutombo said. "It came out and I was just there. It was the right place at the right time to tip it in."
On the next possession, Nesterovic missed an easy layup and lost the rebound out of bounds. Iverson followed with his jumper.
Iverson made 14-of-33 shots and 10-of-11 free throws. The 76ers shot 42 percent (36-of-86).
"It was not an easy one, especially when you're playing a team like Minnesota," Mutombo said. "For us to come out and beat them, it feels wonderful."
Szczerbiak made 14-of-22 shots for Minnesota, which shot just 39 percent (36-of-93). Peeler scored 12 points and fellow reserve
"We got it close at the end, we actually took the lead, but just couldn't get a couple of plays to go our way," Szczerbiak said. "That happens sometimes on the road."
The Sixers led by as many as 12 points in the third quarter and still held a 67-58 lead with 2:40 to go. But Iverson went cold and then sat down, and Minnesota closed the quarter with a 12-2 run that gave it a 70-69 lead. Billups had a 3-pointer and three-point play in the surge.
Szczerbiak made 8-of-12 shots in the first period. But Iverson keyed a pair of 11-4 bursts in the second quarter. He had a runner and a fast-break dunk to help Philadelphia gain a 29-29 tie with 9:24 to go, then had a pair of transition layups that opened a 44-37 advantage with 2 1/2 minutes to go.
"They zoned us the whole first half except on missed field goals, and we really struggled," Sixers coach Larry Brown said. "We started getting to the offensive boards in the second quarter, and we moved without the ball pretty good."
Both Iverson and Szczerbiak had 20 points apiece in the first half, which ended with the Sixers holding a 52-43 lead.