Sixers Hold Off Kings For Third Straight Win
Philadelphia 109, Sacramento 103
PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 24 (Ticker) -- The Sacramento Kings may have been a bit distracted, which was just fine with Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers.
Iverson scored 41 points and the 76ers hung on for a 109-103 victory over the Kings, whose three-game losing streak is not their biggest immediate concern.
However, Artest reportedly has refused to join the Kings, who first told Stojakovic to remain at the hotel but listed him as active for the game. The sharpshooting forward did not play.
"It's just the way it happened," Kings coach Rick Adelman said. "There was nothing that I could do about it. I had to coach the people who were there. I wasn't happy with the whole thing and not having Peja here. You've got to play the cards you're dealt with."
Adelman said he had no concerns about Stojakovic when he returns for Wednesday's game at New York.
"I have a lot of faith in Peja," Adelman said. "He's meant a lot the franchise and to me over the last 7½ years. We'll have to talk to him. You can't expect him not to have feelings about this. I really believe that he will approach this the way he has approached things the last seven years."
"You never know what went on," said Kings center Brad Miller, a former teammate of Artest's in Indiana and Chicago. "I guess it came down to him saying that he didn't want to play here. If he don't want to come here and Peja wants to stay here, then I'll stick with Peja. Ron is a heck of a player but a little bit different. I guess he's not going to be here, so we get Peja back (Wednesday) and we'll try to start over again."
Having lost the first two games of their six-game road trip, the Kings never led after the first four minutes and were outrebounded, 48-34. Miller missed all eight of his shots and did not score until the final minute.
"I don't really know how you explain the day," Miller said, "We get reports saying that it's done. Then while we're getting ready for the game, we get reports that he (Artest) backed out. It was a weird day."
Sacramento trailed by double digits in all four quarters and repeatedly had rallies turned back by Philadelphia, which won its third straight game with some timely defense down the stretch.
"We've talked more about defense in practice," Sixers forward Kyle Korver said. "When we watch film, that's all we watch is defense -- we don't even watch our offense right now. (Defense) has just been our focus. We're playing a different style of basketball right now in terms of slowing it down. We're playing well."
"Its easy to say that because we have been winning," Iverson said. "Obviously we have been playing good enough defense to win basketball games, but we still need to get better."
Two free throws by Mike Bibby, who scored a career-high 44 points, pulled the Kings within 99-97 with 2:32 to play. On their next possession, Bibby had the ball slapped away from him by Andre Iguodala, who drained a 3-pointer at the other end for a 102-97 lead with 1:58 left.
Sacramento committed a turnover and allowed Philadelphia to corral the rebound on the second of two missed free throws by Samuel Dalembert before a pair of foul shots by former King Chris Webber gave the Sixers a 104-97 lead with 48 seconds remaining.
"You've got to give yourself a chance in the fourth quarter," Adelman said. "I don't know what we were down in the fourth quarter and we turned it over three times in a row and that was a killer. You can't do that. It was just unforced turnovers."
Iverson made 16-of-31 shots and 8-of-8 free throws in his 69th career 40-point game and 10th this season. After a 3-pointer by Bibby cut the deficit to 95-93 with just under four minutes to go, Iverson sank two free throws and a baseline jumper.
Bibby made 17-of-25 shots, including 4-of-9 from the arc. He has three 40-point games in his last six contests after notching none in his first seven-plus seasons.
"I tried to be a bit more aggressive instead of being so passive and just trying to get a shot up and keeping the energy up," Bibby said. "I was just trying to make things happen for my team. I was trying to make them guard me and if I had seen somebody open I would get them."
"He's just one of the best point guards in the league," Webber said. "(On) four of those jumpers, I hit him on the forehead on purpose -- he was just hot. Maybe I should have made him pay for dinner last night."
Webber had 17 points and 13 rebounds and Korver scored 14 points off the bench for the Sixers, who swept the season series after being swept in the last four.
Kevin Martin scored 20 points for Sacramento.