Bench Lifts Sixers to Fourth Straight Win
Philadelphia 113, L.A. Clippers, 108
PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 13 (Ticker) -- Lee Nailon and John Salmons are giving the Philadelphia 76ers an unexpected boost off the bench.
Nailon scored 21 points and Salmons added 14 - both season highs - as the surging 76ers won their fourth straight game, a 113-108 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Sixers (4-3) have rebounded nicely from an 0-3 start, and Nailon and Salmons are big reasons why, leading a reserve unit that was supposed to be a weakness. Nailon finally broke out after being held to single digits in his first six games and Salmons reached double figures for the fifth time.
"It was tough coming in here and coming off the bench," said Nailon, who averaged just over 14 points in 53 starts last season with New Orleans. "I had to adjust and figure out my role. Now that I've got my role figured out, I want to stay."
"Every game we all come in and try to do our best," Salmons said. "It's seems that every night one of us has stepped up big. I don't think that there is too many teams that can bring legit players like that."
Nailon made 8-of-11 shots and 5-of-5 free throws as he helped fuel surges in the second and third quarters. Salmons made 4-of-8 shots and added four assists.
"That's what we expect from them," Iverson said. "Those two guys (Nailon and Salmons) could easily start. They've just been handling their roles. They know that they are not starters but they know that they need to give us a lift off the bench."
Philadelphia took the lead for good in the first quarter and repeatedly built margins of double digits that were cut into but not overcome by Los Angeles, which was playing the finale of a four-game road trip.
"We cut it close but we could not get over the hump," said Clippers forward Elton Brand, who had 32 points and 11 rebounds. "Twice we shot ourselves in the foot. Bad shots and turnovers really hurt us."
A 3-pointer by Corey Maggette pulled the Clippers within 88-86 with 10:20 to play before the Sixers responded with a 13-2 run. Nailon started it with two free throws and - after a drive by Salmons - ended it with a layup for a 101-88 advantage with 6:17 to go.
"Every time we practiced it was always us three (Nailon, Salmons and Kevin Ollie) talking about how we are going to have successful season," Nailon said. "We have to come off the bench hungry and go at the other guys."
"Everybody wants to start but everybody can't start," Iverson said. "Once you understand and handle that, you just stay ready to play when it's time to play basketball. When your coach calls your name, go in and give us what you can give us."
A three-point play by Maggette made it 105-100, but Chris Webber sank two foul shots and Iverson made a short jumper to seal it with 54 seconds remaining.
"I can't remember the last time in the fourth quarter where I didn't have the ball as much in the stretch," Iverson said. "All I was waiting for was the opportunity for my man to leave so that I could make a play for myself or one of my teammates."
Maggette scored 20 points for the Clippers, who were let down by their backcourt. Philadelphia native Cuttino Mobley scored just three of his 23 points after halftime and Sam Cassell made only 1-of-10 shots before taking a seat for most of the fourth quarter.
"I just put offensively too much pressure on the guys," Cassell said. "I can't go 1-of-10 and expect us to win. ... Inexcusable."
"Cuttino got into foul trouble, which was tough," said Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy, whose team completed a 2-2 road trip. "It was really just too bad. When he was posting up Iverson, Iverson was going to flop and fall down and get a call."
Nailon had a pair of buckets in a 13-0 run that gave Philadelphia a 46-32 lead late in the second period.
Los Angeles closed to 60-50 at halftime and 75-73 with 3:32 left in the third quarter on a jumper by Quinton Ross before Nailon came alive again with two baskets in a 9-0 run that rebuilt the lead to 84-73.
"I felt like I haven't been giving a good effort coming off the bench," Nailon said. "I've always felt that I could have contributed more than I did. Tonight, the guys got me involved pretty early and I started feeling good."