PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- Raja Bell
and the Phoenix Suns had the
Philadelphia 76ers longing for Allen Iverson.
Bell scored 21 points in three quarters and the hot-shooting
Suns sped to a 123-99 victory over the 76ers, who again played
without their superstar and had a two-game winning streak
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had his first career triple-double for Phoenix, which
bounced back from Sunday's disheartening loss at Cleveland to
improve to 3-2 on their road trip, which ends Tuesday in Boston.
The Suns shot 58 percent (50-of-86) from the field and never
Iverson missed his third straight game with a sprained left
ankle. Playing without him, the 76ers defeated New York and
Orlando over the weekend by using a deliberate offense and
tightening their defense.
"The way we're going to play without Allen Iverson
is the way we
played tonight," Sixers coach Mo Cheeks
said. "When you have
Allen, you can put the ball in his hands a little bit more.
When we do not have him, you have to spread it around and hope
you get three or four guys who can score."
"We expected the game to be slower without him," Bell said. "We
thought that they would try to work Chris Webber a little bit."
Philadelphia could have used Iverson's 34 points per game
against Phoenix, which pushed the pace to a rapid level much
more to its liking. Leading the way was Bell, a former Sixer who
sat out Sunday's loss with a calf injury.
"We imposed our will on the speed of the game which is what we
need to do to win," Bell said.
In the first half, Bell scored 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting,
including three 3-pointers. With reigning MVP Steve Nash
controls, the Suns shot 57.5 percent (23-of-40) and committed
just four turnovers as they raced to a 60-45 halftime lead.
"You know that your time is going to come," Bell said. "It's an
offense where you shoot it and if you miss, you won't have to
worry about going seven minutes before you shoot it again."
"Steve Nash is incredible," Sixers forward Kyle Korver
"He just picks everything apart. You think you have his first
pass covered, his second pass covered, but he finds the third
one, and that guy is wide open for a three."
Several times, Cheeks told his team to slow down and not get
baited into playing at the pace of the Suns, who nevertheless
pressed the tempo and did whatever they wanted.
"The pace is whatever we do," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni
"You can slow it down, we're still going to shoot the ball
within five seconds. So it really doesn't matter."
"I thought that we did a pretty good job in not getting caught
up in the way Phoenix played," Cheeks said. "We don't have the
offensive players that they have. Any team can get caught in
the way they push the ball."
Bell opened the second half with a 3-pointer for a 63-45 lead.
Phoenix led by at least 12 points thereafter and by as many as
28 in a garbage-time fourth quarter.
"We needed a game like that," Bell said. "We haven't been able
to keep people down when we've had them down. It was a focal
point coming out tonight and we were able to execute it."
"There is a method to their madness," Webber said. "They want
those shots and they will live and die by those shots. It's not
that it just happened haphazardly; they really want it that
Nash had 17 points and eight assists and Diaw added 14, 13 and
11 rebounds for the Suns, who had seven scorers in double
figures and sank 11-of-23 3-pointers. Leandro Barbosa
points, fellow reserve Eddie House
added 15 and Shawn Marion
had 15 and 12 boards.
"We did a great job of moving the ball and moving bodies," Nash
said. "That makes it really difficult for people to guard us
especially when we shoot the ball well. With all those
shooters, we always have a threat."
"I think all his guys love to play with him," Cheeks said. "I
think that's the biggest compliment a point guard can have is
that they love to play with him because they know he can score
the ball, but he's always looking to pass to other people and I
think that's one of the biggest compliments you can have."
By contrast, the Sixers shot 44 percent (38-of-86) and made just
2-of-10 from the arc in one of their worst losses. Philadelphia
matched its most points allowed in a regulation game this
had 19 points and 10 rebounds and Samuel Dalembert
added 13 and 12 for the Sixers. Webber, who was instrumental in
the two wins without Iverson, made just 6-of-22 shots for 15
"We couldn't find an answer to stop them," Salmons said. "They
were just coming down and running their offense. They just put
on a clinic."