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Iverson scores 25 in victory

2/12/2004

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- One down, 29 to go.

Allen Iverson scored 25 points and the Philadelphia 76ers gave
interim coach Chris Ford a successful debut Wednesday night with a
113-88 victory over the Washington Wizards.

"The goal is to make the playoffs," Ford said. "Whatever win
total that will take is what we have to go after."

Asked his goal, Ford replied: "29-0."

The Sixers fired Randy Ayers on Monday just 52 games into his
first season after taking over for Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown,
who now coaches the Detroit Pistons. Ford, who led the Boston
Celtics to division titles in 1991 and '92, was promoted from
assistant for the rest of the season.

Ford realizes he might not be back unless he can get the Sixers
into the playoffs. Philadelphia, which had lost eight of 10, is one
game behind Boston for the final playoff spot.

"We set a goal to go 22-7," Iverson said of the remaining 29
games. "We might accomplish it or we might not. But a goal like
that can only help us do better."

Juan Dixon scored 21 points and Jerry Stackhouse had 15 for
Washington, which had won two straight. The Wizards were without
scoring leader Larry Hughes, who broke his left wrist Saturday and
will miss four to six weeks.

Washington heads into the All-Star break with the third-worst
record in the East.

"It's just an embarrassing performance, very embarrassing,"
Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said.

Glenn Robinson and John Salmons scored 15, and reserve Zendon
Hamilton had a season-high 14 points and 10 rebounds for
Philadelphia.

From the start, the Sixers had more energy and enthusiasm than
in recent games under Ayers. There were no players grumbling about
going to the bench and the defensive effort was solid.

Philadelphia built a double-digit lead by the end of the second
quarter and carried it throughout the second half.

"They went out and stuck to the game plan offensively and
defensively," Ford said.

Robinson hit a pair of jumpers around one by Iverson to start
the third quarter to make it 62-41, and the Wizards didn't get
closer than 17 the rest of the way. By the middle of the fourth
quarter, only reserves were on the floor.

Iverson was 11-for-21 with seven assists. He missed 30 of his 41
shots over the last two games.

"I felt a sense of urgency," Iverson said. "I felt anxious
about coming out and getting him his first win."

Gilbert Arenas missed nine of 10 shots and scored just seven
points in his fourth game since coming off the injured list.
Arenas, who missed 26 games with a strained abdomen, had 26 points
in Washington's victory over Cleveland on Saturday.

The Sixers closed the first half with a 10-4 run, taking a 56-41
lead. Iverson made a driving layup and hit a jumper before Salmons
finished the run with a layup.

"I don't know if guys were thinking about the break, but we
came out sluggish," Dixon said. "We didn't get stops on defense,
and they were getting easy baskets. We played catch-up all game."

Game notes
Ford is the third Sixers coach to win his debut in 19
years. Ayers and Fred Carter (1993) were the others. Larry Brown
(1997), Johnny Davis (1996), John Lucas (1994), Doug Moe (1992) and
Jim Lynam (1988) lost their first game in Philadelphia. ... The
Sixers' last two wins were by an average of 24 points. They beat
the Lakers by 23 last Thursday. ... The Wizards had just 15
assists, while Philadelphia had 27.