Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 11/3

Game 1: Wednesday, November 3rd
Game 2: Wednesday, November 24th
Game 3: Sunday, April 3rd
Game 4: Tuesday, April 12th

76ers 97

(36-37, 16-22 away)

Celtics 93

(39-34, 25-13 home)

1:00 PM ET, April 3, 2005

TD Garden, Boston, MA

1 2 3 4 T
PHI 38 17 18 2497
BOS 13 32 25 2393

Top Performers

Phi: A. Iverson 38 Pts, 4 Reb, 9 Ast, 6 Stl, 1 Blk

Bos: P. Pierce 26 Pts, 13 Reb, 6 Ast, 3 Stl

Sixers now within three games in Atlantic

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 shoulder.

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 seconds left.

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.

Game notes

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 1994-95.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 97 93
FGM-FGA 35-96 (.365) 31-79 (.392)
3PM-3PA 8-32 (.250) 7-16 (.438)
FTM-FTA 19-26 (.731) 24-33 (.727)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 17-51 16-56
Assists 21 20
Turnovers 12 22
Steals 19 5
Blocks 5 9
Fast Break Points 20 9
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 26 (1/0) 21 (2/0)
Largest Lead 26 0

Top Performers

Allen Iverson Iverson
Points: 38
Reb: 4
Ast: 9
Stl: 6
Blk: 1
Paul Pierce Pierce
Points: 26
Reb: 13
Ast: 6
Stl: 3
Blk: 0