Webber, Sixers Outlast Celtics in Triple OT
Philadelphia 125, Boston 124 (3OT)
PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 13 (Ticker) -- Chris Webber now has a permanent place in Philadelphia 76ers-Boston Celtics folklore.
In a triple-overtime thriller, Webber had 31 points, 13 rebounds and seemingly every big play as the 76ers outlasted the Celtics, 125-124.
It was the 395th all-time meeting between the storied franchises and one that will be remembered for a long time. Players on both teams were on the verge of exhaustion but kept making big plays, none more so than Webber, who appeared to have more bounce in his step as the game wore on.
"You come too far," Webber said. "Each minute that you play draws you in more. You've played this many minutes, this many quarters, that you can't turn back now. There's no time to be tired. You'll be tired tonight and tomorrow, but it's going to feel good watching some football games with a win."
The highlight came in the first overtime, when Webber went behind his back and through his legs with a dribble before throwing a lob to Dalembert for a dunk and a 107-103 lead with 2:23 remaining. Teammate Andre Iguodala grabbed his head in disbelief.
"It's been something that I've been doing for a long time," Webber said. "It's was more out of necessity than being fancy. I'm glad that Sam read it. I to try to give him an 'oop' earlier and it didn't connect. It felt good when he got that one."
"I told Chris to keep driving the ball," Dalembert said, "Chris drove the ball and (Celtics center Mark) Blount was edging to the other side. Chris just threw the ball up and I went to get it."
But Webber's biggest play came on the defensive end. After he made two free throws with 1:22 left in the third overtime, the teams traded a pair of empty possessions.
Blount rebounded Korver's missed 3-pointer, but Webber sneaked behind him, knocked the ball loose and corraled it with about 10 seconds to play. The Celtics appeared both stunned and exhausted and finally fouled Iverson with two seconds to go.
"(Blount) was looking to the bench to get some instructions," Webber said. "We had just missed a shot and I didn't want to get into another overtime. The only thing that I was worried about was trying not to foul. I'm glad that I didn't foul and I'm glad we got the win."
Iverson missed the first, then intentionally missed the second. With no timeouts, the Celtics could only get Delonte West's 60-foot runner, which hit the backboard, ending the 3:43 marathon.
"It was a great game to be a part of," Celtics forward Paul Pierce said. "There were a lot of emotional high and lows. It's mentality draining, but I'm glad I had a chance to be a part of it."
"We had ample opportunities to close it out," said West who played collegiately at nearby St. Joseph's. "The league is funny. Big shots come from everywhere. Anyone can step up at any moment. Guys stepped up on both sides, but they just closed us out."
Webber's heroics would have been wasted if not for Korver. The Celtics inexplicably did not foul Iverson as he dribbled the length of the court or Korver as he took a pass, faked once and drilled his first basket since intermission, drawing a "Wow!" from Pierce.
"Allen just knows that I'm going to circle back behind him," Korver said. "I tried to pump fake it and get a foul. They didn't go for it and they jumped out of the way. I took a dribble to the side. I pulled up and gave it all I had. It was on line and luckily, I knocked it down."
"Once they got across halfcourt, you don't want to take that chance on fouling him, " Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "If we were going to do it, we should have done it in the frontcourt. We did give it some thought, but as a team we haven't done it that much, so we decided not to do it. He made a great shot and you've got to give him credit."
In the fourth quarter, Webber scored five points in an 8-0 burst that got Philadelphia back into the game, then threw in a lefthanded hook with 3:10 left that gave the Sixers a 98-97 lead - their first of the second half. That was the first of nine lead changes and six ties until the final horn.
Blount, who had a season-high 27 points and 12 rebounds, answered with a jumper before Dalembert dunked and Iverson made a free throw for a 101-99 edge with 1:32 to play. But West blocked a shot by Iverson and buried a jumper with 51 seconds to go, setting up the first overtime.
Webber threw in a hook and a jumper before his stunning setup for Dalembert. But Ricky Davis - who had season highs of 33 points and nine assists - made a pair of jumpers around two free throws by Pierce, giving Boston a 109-107 lead with 40 seconds remaining.
But Dalembert snared an offensive rebound and the 62 percent foul shooter drained both free throws to tie it again with 27 seconds left before Davis missed a jumper.
Webber's 3-pointer pulled Philadelphia into a 114-114 tie, but Blount answered with a three-point play with 2:18 to go. Iverson made a jumper before fatigue appeared to set in as Iverson missed a jumper, Pierce missed two free throws, Iverson threw a bad pass and Blount shot an airball.
"Both teams want to win and they want to do everything possible," Pierce said. "You don't think about the fatigue factor. You're just trying to grind it out to get the win."
Webber sank a leaner for a 118-117 lead with 21 seconds to play. But Blount stormed down the lane for a dunk, and the Sixers looked done when Webber was called for an offensive foul with 7.9 seconds left.
Brian Scalabrine caught his own inbounds pass off Korver's back and was fouled with 6.5 seconds to go. He sank both free throws for a 121-118 lead, setting the stage for Korver.
Iguodala had 14 points and nine rebounds, Korver scored 12 points and John Salmons 11 for the Sixers (18-18), who climbed back to .500 in their first triple-overtime game since November 20, 1992 vs. Miami.
"I don't think that I've ever been involved in a three-overtime game," Webber said. "I'm just proud of us because we didn't give up. We were down three in a couple of the overtimes and we didn't do something out of character. We stuck with the game plan and that's why we won."
Pierce had 18 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds but made just 4-of-20 shots as he was hounded by Iguodala. West scored 17 points and Kendrick Perkins added 10 and 11 boards for the Celtics (14-22), who played their first triple-OT game since Feb. 17, 1999 vs. Vancouver.
Davis played 57 minutes and Iverson, Iguodala, Webber and Pierce and played more than 50. Blount played 47 minutes off the bench.
The Celtics scored a season-high 65 points in the first half and extended their margin to 78-62 midway through the third quarter before Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks pulled Iverson, Webber and Korver and went with a defensive lineup.
"They just controlling the game and our defense was not that good," Cheeks said. "Everyone that we had out on the floor was not playing defense. I tried to insert some guys that were going to give us a little energy, give us a little defense and they turned the game around. Those guys that I put in there helped us get back in the game. Everyone that came in the game had a part in the victory."