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Posted Dec 12 2006 11:00PM
The Philadelphia 76ers insist they're more concerned with ending their losing streak than they are dealing Allen Iverson.
With Iverson trade rumors still swirling, the Sixers look to shake their longest slump in nine years Wednesday when they host the Boston Celtics.
Iverson has been on the inactive list for the team's last three games since chairman Ed Snider said the 76ers were seeking to grant the point guard's request for a trade. The seven-time All-Star and former MVP still has not been dealt, but his nameplate was removed and his locker at the Wachovia Center was cleaned out before Monday's 81-79 loss to Portland.
However, the most pressing matter for the 76ers (5-15) was their first eight-game losing streak since April 2-14, 1997 - Iverson's rookie season. Philadelphia has not dropped nine straight since a 13-game skid earlier in the same season, from Dec. 28-Jan. 20.
``My concern is trying to win some games,'' said Chris Webber, who had nine points. ``I don't want to finish playing with a loser. I definitely hope the situation resolves itself, but losing is so frustrating that it takes precedence over something like that.''
Andre Iguodala tied a career high with 27 points, but Kyle Korver was the only other Sixer player in double figures with 10.
``It's a challenge, but you can't script it,'' coach Maurice Cheeks said. ``If I could script it, we'd have a winning record. The challenge is, I'm going to keep these guys up. We're going to make them realize some of the positives.''
The Sixers have lost 15 of 17 and are tied with the Charlotte Bobcats for the worst record in the Eastern Conference. Philadelphia plays 10 of its next 13 on the road, where it has gone 2-10.
``The last couple of games that we've had, we've had very good games although the outcome hasn't been what we've wanted,'' Cheeks said. ``The effort has been very strong. Our play on the defensive end has been strong, passing the ball and utilizing the talents that we have. The guys believe that it's going to turn around. It is going to turn around.''
The Celtics (7-13) reportedly were close to acquiring Iverson on the night of the draft and remain a potential suitor for Iverson, who is averaging 31.2 points. Paul Pierce, who leads Boston with 26.0 points per game, has openly campaigned for his team to acquire the dynamic point guard.
The Celtics are looking to wrap up an undefeated three-game road trip after beating the New York Knicks 97-90 on Monday. The Celtics led 68-38 early in the third quarter before going cold in the fourth and allowing the Knicks to close within three points with 1:28 to play before holding on.
``I think it gives us confidence,'' said Pierce, who had 30 points, of the consecutive wins. ``When you got a team that's been struggling all year, to go out on the road, it's two big wins. We got one more game to go. Hopefully we'll get it done and try to build on it.''
The Celtics have won four of their last six meetings with the Sixers.
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