Iverson Nets 53, 76ers Lose to Hawks
Atlanta 111, Philadelphia 108
ATLANTA, Dec. 23 (Ticker) -- Allen Iverson scored 53 points. His Philadelphia 76ers teammates did not match their captain's brilliance.
Iverson's 10th career 50-point game was wasted as the 76ers ignored him down the stretch in a 111-108 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, who continue to show improvement.
"I've done that before (score 50 plus in a loss)," Iverson said. "It's not like I'm not used to that. I'd rather score none at all and win the game. It's a bad feeling for me."
"Allen's capable of doing that on a game's basis," Philadelphia coach Maurice Cheeks said. "We gave up 111 points; our defense just has to get better. Every time we needed a stop, we couldn't get it."
Iverson made 17-of-31 shots and 19-of-21 free throws as he notched his best total since a career-best 60-point explosion against Orlando last February. He scored 32 points in the second half, including a driving layup that gave Philadelphia a 105-104 lead with 2:57 left.
Zaza Pachulia, who scored a career-high 23 points, answered with two free throws to give Atlanta the lead for good. John Salmons misfired on a 3-pointer and Pachulia drilled a jumper for a 108-105 lead with 2:07 to play.
"Today I think we played great," Pachulia said. "We shared the ball, we had 29 assists and that's great. The whole team has played well. ... It's a team game."
Salmons drew a foul but split the free throws. Joe Johnson hit a jumper for a 110-106 advantage before Salmons got reckless on consecutive possessions, firing another 3-pointer and having his layup blocked by Josh Smith with less than a minute to go.
"You can't beat a guy up for taking a shot," Cheeks said. "I'm not going to get upset about that."
After the game, however, Salmons was upset with some bickering he heard from teammates.
"I just heard some things (from my teammates), that's all I'm going to say," said Salmons, who made just 2-of-10 shots, including 0-of-4 from the arc. "It's disappointing; that's not how a team should be. They left me open and I took the shots. If I had that over again, I would do it again."
Neither Iverson nor star teammate Chris Webber seemed to hear any of this.
"It shouldn't have come down to those shots," Iverson said. "I wanted it but I can live with my teammates as they live and die with me. I trust they will do something positive with the ball. John had some opportunities and I trust him. I'm sure he's just reacting to something that's not that serious but seems like it in the (heat of the moment)."
"I didn't hear anything," Webber said. "No, that's not a team. That wouldn't have happened around me."
A steal and layup by Iverson made it a one-possession game with 36 seconds left, and the Sixers got a stop and called time. However, Cheeks ran a play for Webber, who missed a hook and lost the rebound out of bounds with 2.4 seconds to play.
Johnson made 1-of-2 free throws before a desperation full-court pass by Andre Iguodala was intercepted.
"We had an opportunity for Allen to go to the basket (on that play)," Cheeks said. "We did get a good shot off. You can't get mad at that when you give up 111 points."
"I told Chris before the play that if both men stay with me, he should go to the basket," Iverson said. "I know my teammates look for me down the stretch, but I'll take some of those shots."
Johnson scored 24 points and Al Harrington added 22 for the Hawks (7-18), who avenged a loss at Philadelphia on December 14 with their fifth win in seven games.
"We showed a lot of character coming back from down 12," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "I thought Iverson was tremendous tonight. He created so many problems for us but I like that we found a way to overcome that. We played unselfishly and continued to share the ball like we have been lately."
Webber had 16 points and 11 rebounds and Iguodala scored 14 points for the Sixers, who fell to 3-5 this season when Iverson scores 40 or more. Philadelphia (14-14) had won six of its last seven games.
"It's frustrating. We wanted to go into the holiday with a win," Iverson said. "They made baskets at the end and we missed two shots and that was pretty much it."
Iverson repeatedly attacked the basket in the first half, coming away with layups or free throws. But his 21 points were not enough to prevent the Hawks from holding a 58-55 lead behind 16 points from Harrington and 13 from Pachulia.
The four-time scoring champion took it to another gear in the third period, scoring 17 points and totally controlling the flow with his quickness. He flipped an alley-oop pass to Iguodala for a dunk, then added two free throws and a pull-up jumper to give Philadelphia its largest lead at 84-72.
"I thought we had the game in control at times," Webber said. "But you have to give them credit."
A jumper by Iverson made it 89-82 with 9:20 left before a three-point play by Pachulia triggered a 14-2 burst that gave the Hawks a 96-91 advantage with 7:10 left.
"This win showed a lot of growth for us as a team," Harrington said. "We started off sloppy in the third period. We took a timeout, coach jumped in our behinds and we turned it around."