Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 3)

Series starts 3/4

Game 1: Friday, March 4th
Game 2: Friday, March 18th
Game 3: Friday, April 8th

Cavaliers 98

(38-37, 11-26 away)

76ers 103

(38-37, 22-15 home)

Coverage: CSN

7:00 PM ET, April 8, 2005

Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA

1 2 3 4 T
CLE 22 26 25 2598
PHI 27 23 33 20103

Top Performers

Cle: L. James 37 Pts, 13 Reb, 7 Ast, 5 Stl

Phi: S. Dalembert 23 Pts, 16 Reb, 1 Stl, 3 Blk

Iverson's 16 dimes make up for poor shooting night

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Bothered by bum thumbs, Allen Iverson used nifty assists instead of slash-and-crash moves to help the Philadelphia 76ers make a nice pass in the standings.

Iverson had 23 points and a career-high 16 assists to help the 76ers sweep the season series against Cleveland with a 103-98 victory Friday night and leapfrog the Cavaliers into seventh place in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Iverson sprained both his thumbs against the Cavaliers and said it affected his shot all game. It was hard to tell when Iverson hit a jumper with 8.5 seconds left that gave the Sixers a needed cushion.

"As soon it left my hand, I knew it was good," said Iverson, who shot 9-for-30. "Even with my hand hurting the way it was, I tried to let it go and not think about the pain."

Barring a collapse or a season-ending hot streak from a couple of teams lower in the standings, the Sixers are in good shape with seven games left to return to the postseason after a one-year hiatus.

"We're in it," said Iverson, who chipped a bone in his left thumb in March. "It is our spot right now. If we don't play basketball then we will lose it. We understand what's going on. We understand the severity of all these games coming up."

While both Cleveland and Philadelphia are 38-37, the Sixers have the tiebreaker with three wins against the Cavaliers this year. They beat them 98-89 on March 4 and 93-81 on March 18.

With a season-high three-game winning streak, the Sixers are even holding out hope they can catch Boston in the Atlantic Division, though that seems unlikely trailing the Celtics by 3 games.

"Our whole thing is basically getting in. If we get in, we feel like the sky's the limit," Iverson said.

Samuel Dalembert had 23 points and 16 rebounds, and Marc Jackson scored 24 points for the Sixers. Chris Webber missed his fourth straight game with a sprained left shoulder and will not travel with the team for Saturday's game at Washington.

Coach Jim O'Brien said Webber could return for Tuesday's game against Boston.

LeBron James scored 37 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for the Cavaliers and Drew Gooden added 24 points and 12 rebounds. Cleveland played without Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who dislocated his right ring finger in a loss to New Jersey on Tuesday.

The fading Cavs have lost three straight and five of six, and the Nets are 1½ games back of the eighth seed in the East.

"We're still in the playoffs right now, so we just have to keep fighting," James said.

"I feel like if we played like we played tonight, we can win a lot of ballgames."

With Eagles training camp months away and the Phillies already in a funk, this is the time for the Sixers to seize the city's sports spotlight. They looked ready while playing in front of only the seventh sellout this season.

After having 20-point leads sliced to single digits before winning their last two games, the Sixers nearly let an 11-point lead with 2:19 left get away.

Gooden sank a 3-pointer and Jeff McInnis converted a three-point play as part of a 10-2 run that got the Cavaliers to 100-98 with 30 seconds left.

But Iverson, who compensated for poor shooting by keeping his teammates involved, buried a jumper just to the left of the free throw line with 8.5 seconds left that sent the crowd into a frenzy.

Kyle Korver added a free throw in the final seconds and the Sixers held on for the thrilling win.

The Sixers got going in the third quarter, making 13 of 21 shots and Iverson adding six assists. He usually found Dalembert or Jackson in the paint for easy layups or big dunks.

Iverson's got his 16th assist late in the fourth, on a bounce pass to Jackson. Jackson looked around, found nowhere to pass and hit the open jumper just to the right of the line for a 99-88 lead.

"He showed an unbelievable amount of savvy to know there are other ways to win without scoring," O'Brien said. "It was great leadership by Allen to change gears."

Iverson's desperation heave right before the first half was caught by Jackson and dunked at the buzzer for a 50-48 lead.

Game notes

Iverson showed up wearing a throwback of Webber's No. 2 Washington Bullets jersey. Webber participated in a full practice Thursday and O'Brien thought he might have him in the lineup. "His ability to get his arms comfortably above his head for shooting and for rebounding is not there yet," O'Brien said. "Nothing happened in practice that set him back." ... Eagles RB Brian Westbrook was at the game. So was former "L.A. Law" actor Corbin Bernsen. Bernsen was booed when he said he was a Lakers fan. ... Iverson was whistled for a technical in the third.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 98 103
FGM-FGA 35-86 (.407) 42-88 (.477)
3PM-3PA 5-16 (.313) 7-13 (.538)
FTM-FTA 23-27 (.852) 12-18 (.667)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 15-44 17-50
Assists 15 25
Turnovers 18 20
Steals 12 10
Blocks 3 3
Fast Break Points 7 20
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 23 (0/0) 21 (1/0)
Largest Lead 4 11

Top Performers

LeBron James James
Points: 37
Reb: 13
Ast: 7
Stl: 5
Blk: 0
Samuel Dalembert Dalembert
Points: 23
Reb: 16
Ast: 0
Stl: 1
Blk: 3