BOSTON (AP) -- The Atlantic Division is heading down to the wire.
It's also heading down to the bottom.
Allen Iverson scored 38 points for Philadelphia, which beat
Boston 97-93 on Sunday to snap a three-game losing streak and move
three games behind the Celtics in the NBA's worst division. At one
game below .500, Philadelphia could finish with the Eastern
Conference's third seed or miss the playoffs altogether.
"The playoffs have started for a lot of teams and we haven't
joined in the fray," said Boston coach Doc Rivers, hoarse after a
game in which his team fell behind 26 points in the first quarter.
"We really don't get it. I'm telling you, we don't."
Philadelphia moved a game ahead of Orlando for the eighth and
final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Samuel Dalembert had
18 points and 15 rebounds for the Sixers, who played their third
consecutive game with Chris Webber out because of a sprained left
Iverson started and played 44 minutes, getting nine assists and
six steals, despite a strained groin that put him out of the fourth
quarter in Friday night's game against Dallas.
"Early in the game, we buckled down," he said. "I'm glad we
did, because it shows we can play defense with the best of them."
Paul Pierce had 26 points and 13 rebounds and Raef LaFrentz had
14 points and 13 rebounds for the Celtics, who were without Antoine
Walker (bruised left knee). Rivers said Walker will probably miss
Tuesday's game at Washington and perhaps the rest of the week.
"But, listen," Rivers said. "They didn't have Webber, so no
excuse for us. Antoine had nothing to do with this one."
Boston won 10 of 11 after acquiring Walker at the trading
deadline, and Sunday's game was moved to the afternoon and put on
national television after the surge threw the teams into a fight
for the division title. But the Sixers have fallen to the verge of
the lottery, and Boston lost three in a row before beating the
Atlanta Hawks -- the NBA's worst team -- on Friday.
"It's a big game: national TV," said Ricky Davis, who scored
27 off the bench for Boston. "It's very embarrassing."
The Celtics would earn the third seed with a division title. But
Boston is just ½-game ahead of Indiana for home-court advantage in
the first round of the playoffs.
The Celtics trailed 38-12 with 15 seconds left in the first
quarter, and it was still a double-digit deficit late in the fourth
when Davis hit a 3-pointer with 6:39 left to make it 83-75. Pierce
and Al Jefferson each hit a pair of free throws to complete a 7-0
run that made it a four-point game.
Boston made it 93-90 in the final minutes when Pierce scored on
a finger-roll layin from underneath the basket and drew a foul. But
he missed the free throw, then Iverson scored off a screen at the
top of the key to give the Sixers a five-point lead with 22.7
The Celtics made just 5-of-20 shots and committed seven
turnovers in the first quarter. Philadelphia made 5-of-12 from
3-point range in the first but just 1-of-9 in the second, when the
Celtics scored eight straight to close the gap and then cut it to
10 on Pierce's 3-pointer in the final second of the half.
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell took part in the national
anthem, making good on a Super Bowl bet he made with his
Massachusetts counterpart, Mitt Romney. Both governors wore
Patriots jerseys; Rendell's wife, Midge, a trained opera singer,
helped him finish the song. ... Kyle Korver went 1-for-6 from
3-point range to set the 76ers record for 3-pointers in a season
with 198. The old mark was held by Dana Barros, who made 197 in