Iversonís Big Fourth Leads Sixers Over Bulls
Philadelphia 108, Chicago 102
PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 25 (Ticker) -- Allen Iverson provided all the energy the shorthanded Philadelphia 76ers needed to improve their position in the Eastern Conference.
Iverson scored 14 of his 38 points in the final quarter and Andre Iguodala added 20 as the 76ers posted a 108-102 victory over the Chicago Bulls.
"It's big for us because we know the other teams are right around us for the playoffs," Iverson said. "(But) we are not approaching games like that. We are just trying to win the game. We don't feel like we need to settle for the eighth or seventh seed, we feel like we can get as high as we want to."
After winning in Milwaukee on Friday, the Sixers (28-27) gained a measure of revenge against the Bulls, who handed Philadelphia its worst loss of the season just before the All-Star break, to remain one-half game ahead of the Bucks for seventh place in the East.
"They gave us a whoopin' there in Chicago before the break," Sixers forward Kyle Korver said of the 117-84 loss. "That's not the way we wanted to go into the break. We took it back out on them tonight. We played hard. We took it to them. It was a good win."
Ninth-place Chicago (24-31), which also was playing on back-to-back nights, fell 3 1/2 games behind Milwaukee.
"It's hard to explain, every game is important especially with a team we're trying to chase," Bulls guard Chris Duhon said. "For us not to have that sense of urgency like it's a playoff game it's a shame. We should've been focused and executed the game plan and just gave an all-out effort, which we didn't."
While fatigue appeared to set in during the fourth quarter, Iverson was anything but tired after a relatively quiet third period. Philadelphia made six baskets over the final 12 minutes - all by Iverson.
"Last night they kind of took me out of the game defensively and my teammates stepped up," Iverson said. "Tonight was just a little different. I stepped up in the fourth quarter. We just need everyone to contribute."
"It's something that we've talked about this season in terms of (Iverson) being a team leader," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "The past three games he's been phenomenal from taking over the game to his overall leadership."
The NBA's second-leading scorer hit two jumpers and a 3-pointer during an 8-0 run that gave the Sixers a 98-89 lead with 2:41 remaining. The Bulls, who had seven empty possessions during the run, drew within 99-96 on a hook shot by Malik Allen just over a minute later.
Iguodala split a pair of free throws to push the lead to four points before making a key defensive play to all but seal the victory. Iguodala and rookie Shavlik Randolph played tight defense on Duhon, forcing the ball to Allen. Iguodala then swiped the ball from Allen with 32 seconds remaining and combined with Korver to hit eight free throws down the stretch to seal it.
"Allen and Kyle are doing things on the court as far as scoring," Iguodala said. "I look forward to doing the little things that are going to change the game. I always tell myself to make a big play and make something happen. When the opportunity presents itself, you try to take advantage of it."
Duhon scored 12 of his 17 points in the fourth to lead six players in double figures for the Bulls, who committed 22 turnovers.
"Turnovers, over-dribbling, just standing, ill-advised shots - we just had a hard time in general of getting any energy," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "When that happens, we're not very good. We've got to play with a lot of energy and passion. When we do that, we're very good."
Iverson scored 22 points in the first half, but Tyson Chandler converted a three-point play with 35 seconds left that gave the Bulls a 59-57 lead at the break.
"It's a disappointing loss because of the way we played," Skiles said. "We didn't play particulary well in the first half, yet we had a two-point lead and they didn't have Chris Webber. We were still fortunate enough to have a lead and to come out so flat is so puzzling."
Iguodala added nine in the third quarter and Korver hit a pair of 3-pointers as the Sixers closed the period with a 12-2 run to move in front, 81-74.