Sixers Sweep Home-and-Home From Knicks
Philadelphia 114, New York 95
PHILADELPHIA, April 2 (Ticker) -- The only thing the Philadelphia 76ers needed more than a game against the New York Knicks was a home-and-home series with them.
Allen Iverson scored 32 points and Chris Webber and Andre Iguodala added 20 apiece as the 76ers rolled to a 114-95 victory over the woeful Knicks.
"Realizing where we are and the situation that we're in, we couldn't afford any letdowns," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "We knew coming in that we had to have these last two wins and I think that we just focused on them."
The league's second-leading scorer, Iverson scored 21 points in the first half as the Sixers took a 61-50 lead into intermission. The four-time scoring champion provided the impetus to a 14-3 run to end the half, during which he drilled a jumper before adding a free throw and a three-point play.
"Everybody knows the importance of each game," Iverson said. "We had a good meeting in New York and it helped us out because it got us to focus on what we needed to do as a basketball team."
Things did not get any better in the second half for the Knicks, who trailed by as many as 23 points en route to their eighth straight loss. Playing without injured guards Stephon Marbury and Jalen Rose, New York committed 25 turnovers against only 20 assists.
"I think if you look at the M.O. of this team all year, we have had trouble making stops," Knicks coach Larry Brown said. "We have turned the ball over, we lead the league in turnovers, points of turnovers, and assist-to-turnovers. I keep telling them if you want to play playoff basketball, you've got to take care of the ball and execute. We don't get it and we have to keep working on it."
Meanwhile, Brown's old team played much more unselfishly, collecting 30 assists on 39 baskets. The Sixers (34-38) shot a blistering 55 percent (39-of-71) and made 33-of-37 free throws in moving 1 1/2 games ahead of the Chicago Bulls for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
"We're not in the playoffs yet," said Webber, who made 9-of-18 shots and added a season-high seven steals. "We lose three in a row and Chicago wins three, we're out of it. I'm not looking at the playoffs yet. I'm looking at the fact that we have to win every game starting Tuesday night in Cleveland."
"It's going to be a tough week, because it's going to be a playoff atmosphere." Iverson said. "It is important for us to try to win one game at a time and just concentrate on that. Whatever opponent we have to play, just worry about those guys and then worry about whatever happens after that."
Iverson, who made 9-of-16 shots from the field and 12-of-14 from the line, knew that the Sixers could not afford to take the Knicks for granted.
"We knew that New York was a team that was struggling the whole year and we just wanted to get this win," Iverson said. "We had a win on their home court and we did a good job on being focused and finishing it out."
Knicks guard Steve Francis, who scored 18 points, was extremely impressed by the chemistry shared by Iverson and Webber.
"I have never seen Allen and Chris play that good together," Francis said. "They played off each other and they were able to get the victory."
Jamal Crawford scored 23 points and Eddy Curry added 14 for New York (19-53), which has lost two of three meetings with Philadelphia this season.
"Anytime you get a win, you get that confidence," Iverson said. "It would have been easy to go against a team that hasn't won 20 games, underestimate them and let them get a win. They're playing relaxed and we're fighting for a playoff, so those teams are hard to beat at this time of the year."