Iverson Returns to Lead Sixers Past Cavaliers
Philadelphia 100, Cleveland 95
CLEVELAND, Feb. 4 (Ticker) -- Allen Iverson looked like he hardly missed a beat.
Iverson returned to the lineup and collected 34 points and nine assists as the Philadelphia 76ers welcomed back their leader with a 100-95 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The NBA's second-leading scorer at 33.6 points per game, Iverson had missed the Sixers' last four games with injuries to both ankles. Philadelphia won the first two games without the superstar guard before dropping a pair of home contests to Detroit and Phoenix.
"You appreciate the game a lot more," Iverson said. "You miss it so much when you can't play. You see your teammates playing without you, you watch games, and you see things you could have helped them do."
Iverson got plenty of help from Chris Webber, who scored 26 points on 12-of-19 shooting, as the Sixers rallied from an early 14-point deficit.
"It's easy to find a rhythm with him," Webber said. "We kept the ball in the right people's hands and we played as a team."
The duo combined for 37 points in the first half to keep Philadelphia within 52-50 and Iverson added nine more in the third to give the Sixers a 74-69 edge.
"It seemed like every possession the ball was in Allen Iverson's hands and they were just creating with Chris Webber," Cavaliers forward Drew Gooden said. "It was a two-man game."
Gooden's jumper cut Cleveland's deficit to 78-77 three minutes into the final period before Kyle Korver drained a 3-pointer at the other end to ignite a 9-2 burst, capped by Iverson's jumper with 6:11 to go.
"It's very tough (to stop Iverson)," said Cleveland superstar LeBron James, who guarded Iverson in the second half. "Even when he penetrates he is able to find guys or able to get his shot up. I just did my best to try and contain him and make other people score. He did that."
James scored 31 points and Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 26 and 11 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who committed 19 turnovers en route to their second straight loss following a seven-game win streak.
"That's how we got back in the game, forcing some turnovers and not allowing them to get offensive rebounds," said Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks, whose team forced 11 turnovers in the second period. "I thought we limited them and created some turnovers for ourselves and got some easy baskets."
Samuel Dalembert had 13 points, eight boards and six blocked shots for the Sixers, who shot 81 percent (25-of-31) from the free-throw line, including a 14-of-14 performance from Iverson.
"Once (Iverson) got his rhythm back, he was doing the things he normally does," Cheeks said. "The impact that he has on the game itself is just unreal."
The Cavs opened the game with a 9-0 run and held a 41-27 lead four minutes into the second quarter before the Sixers used a 14-2 burst to get back in the game.
"We came out early with the intensity that we wanted to win a ballgame and then we just let it slip by," James said. "It wasn't a good effort by us tonight. It's a simple as that."
The Sixers have won 21 of the last 25 matchups with the Cavs, including nine of 11 in Cleveland.