Philly moves into first-place Atlantic Division tie

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Allen Iverson was hardly concerned Philadelphia wasted a 25-point lead in the fourth quarter. All that mattered was that the 76ers held on for a win and grabbed a share of first place.

Kenny Thomas had 21 points and 15 rebounds, Iverson scored 29 and Philadelphia survived a disastrous fourth quarter before beating the New Orleans Hornets 95-91 on Monday.

"It don't matter if we won by 30 or we won by one. It's the same result," Iverson said.

Corliss Williamson added 16 points for the Sixers, who are just 17-20 but moved into a tie with the Knicks and Celtics atop the Atlantic Division.

"That's been our ultimate goal, just get to first place and win the Atlantic," Iverson said. "That's it. Hopefully today we moved a step closer, but we've got a long way to go."

New Orleans played without leading scorer Baron Davis, who bruised his right ankle in Sunday's loss to Toronto. Lee Nailon led the Hornets with 23 points, Dan Dickau added 16 and P.J. Brown had 14 points and 14 rebounds.

After winning three of four and providing some reason to feel good about themselves, New Orleans (5-32) has lost two straight.

The Hornets had to like their comeback, though.

Iverson opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer for an 82-57 lead, but the Hornets went on a 17-0 run highlighted by three jumpers from Nailon and a 3-pointer by Dickau.

The Sixers scored their first points in 7½ minutes when Williamson fought his way through the paint for a basket and a free throw to make it 85-74. Iverson hit a jumper from the left wing and added another from the baseline for an 89-78 lead.

But New Orleans scored the next seven points to cut the deficit to four, and when Dickau was fouled by Iverson on a 3-point attempt, the Hornets guard made all three free throws to make it 93-91.

Kyle Korver sealed the win with two free throws.

"That was like a basketball nightmare," Korver said. "Luckily, we had built up enough of a lead to just kind of hang on. That didn't feel right."

The Hornets shot 52 percent in the fourth, scored nine points off five Sixers turnovers and outrebounded them by six in the quarter. New Orleans also made all 11 free throws in the quarter.

"We've been playing a lot better as a team lately, but it hasn't necessarily been translated into a ton of wins. It's going to one of these days," Dickau said. "I guess coming back from a deficit like that feels good in a way, but we dug ourselves too big of a hole."

The Sixers built a big lead early thanks to Thomas, who posted his third straight double-double and seems to have regained his form from last season when he finished the season averaging double digits in scoring and rebounding.

He started slowly this season and went from sitting out fourth quarters to losing his starting spot to getting benched for an entire game.

Thomas worked his way back in the starting lineup and reached 20 points for the third time this month. He scored 15 points on 6-for-7 shooting in the first quarter against the Hornets.

Game notes
Fans broke into several chants of "E-A-G-L-E-S!" Philadelphia's NFL team hosts the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday. ... With five wins, the Hornets are trying to avoid having the worst record in NBA history; the 1972-73 Sixers were 9-73. "I like a lot of records, but that's not one of them,"
Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "They've hung in there with me and the staff. The one thing I've never had to question is their energy and their effort." ... Scott hopes Davis will return for Wednesday's game against Indiana. ... Sixers center Samuel Dalembert (hip) missed his fourth straight game.