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For a change, Sixers hold off a charging team

1/19/2003

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Larry Brown had no trouble finding material
for his pregame speech before his Philadelphia 76ers played the
Washington Wizards.

"I'm reading Washington's papers,'' the coach said. "They're
20-19 and really upbeat. We're 20-19 and, like, dying.''

Philadelphia reversed both trends, at least for one day, as
Allen Iverson scored 26 points in Saturday night's 88-80 victory.
The 76ers are now 3-0 this season against the Wizards, a helpful
stat in case the teams are tied again in April, although Philadelphia nearly blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter.

"I was trying to say: 'Hey, look at the bright side.' Then I
look at the end of the game, and we don't have a lot of
confidence,'' Brown said. "When you've got a great scorer in
Allen, I think you should have confidence you're going to win the
game in the end -- knowing he'll get it done.''

Eric Snow matched his season-high with 19 points, and Keith Van
Horn had 17 points and 11 rebounds for the 76ers, who won for only
the second time in nine games.

Michael Jordan scored 25 points on 10-for-25 shooting, and he
had seven points and two assists among constant double teams in the
final five minutes as the Wizards cut the deficit to two. He
dribbled out of a double team and hit a baseline jumper to close
Philadelphia's lead to 82-80 with 1:26 to play.

But the Wizards didn't score again. Aaron McKie, fouled by
Jordan while shooting, made two free throws to get the lead back to
four. The Wizards then turned the ball over trying to feed a
double-teamed Jordan in the post, McKie and Iverson each made two
more free throws to close out the victory.

"I thought I got fouled,'' Jordan said. "But that's a player's
thought, and that's a loser's thought, too. I can't pin everything
on that one particular play. Give us some credit. We fought back,
but not enough credit to say we won.''

Jordan was having to carry more of the scoring load because
leading scorer Jerry Stackhouse is out with a groin injury and
point guard Larry Hughes missed the fourth quarter with the flu.
Jordan was playing the point in the final minutes. Rookie Juan
Dixon got extended time and finished with career highs of 19 points
and six rebounds.

But it was Philadelphia's defense that made the difference, as
it has in all three victories over the Wizards. They forced 19
turnovers Saturday, converting them into 28 points.

"You focus on our turnovers,'' Jordan said. "If you take that
out of the game, we beat this team three straight times.''

Jordan scored the first two baskets of the game for the Wizards,
then went quiet for long stretches. A 9-2 Washington lead was more
than negated by a 20-4 run by the 76ers, who led 23-19 at the end
of the first quarter.

Dixon was 5-of-7 and scored 12 points in the second quarter,
including a long 3-pointer just before the shot clock expired. The
Wizards trailed 47-41 at halftime.

Snow scored five points in an 8-3 run to open the third quarter,
and the Wizards made just two field goals in the first five
minutes. With the Sixers leading 64-51, Jordan scored the next
eight points for Washington. But it didn't make much of a dent as
the 76ers took a 71-61 lead into the fourth.

Snow scored the first four points in a 6-2 spurt that put the
76ers up 77-61 at the early in the fourth quarter.

Game notes
Stackhouse, who has a pulled left groin, will resume light
running Sunday and could play Wednesday at New Orleans unless he
has a setback. "If he has any kind of adverse effect, the doctors
are talking about shutting him down for a couple of weeks,''
Collins said. The Wizards are 1-2 since Stackhouse got hurt. ...
Wizards center Kwame Brown banged his right hand in the first half.
X-rays were negative, and he played in the second half. ... The
usual throng of Philadelphia fans made the trip to Washington for
the game, and they made themselves known by chanting "E-A-G-L-E-S,
Eagles!'' in the third quarter. The Eagles play Tampa Bay for in
the NFL's NFC championship game on Sunday.