PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Allen Iverson again is leading Philadelphia
upward in the Eastern Conference standings.
Iverson scored 38 points and had 16 assists, helping the Sixers
spoil the return of Shaquille O'Neal and overcome a career-high 48
points from Dwyane Wade with a 126-119 overtime win over the Miami
Heat on Thursday night.
"It's like a do or die situation," Iverson said. "A loss here
or there and we could be out of the playoffs. We understand that.
It just says a lot about us."
Marc Jackson scored 26 and Kyle Korver 20 for the Sixers, who
won for the fifth time in six games. With Cleveland's 95-89 loss to
New York, the Sixers (40-38) moved into a tie for seventh in the
East standings. Philadelphia, though, holds the tiebreaker with
three wins over the Cavaliers.
The next two games will go a long way toward deciding
Philadelphia's fate. They play at Indiana on Friday and at New
Jersey on Sunday before ending the season with games against
Milwaukee on Monday and Atlanta on Wednesday.
"Playing a lot of games in a few nights, that comes with the
territory," Jackson said. "You enjoy those things."
Wade's career-high in points and 10 rebounds couldn't keep the
Heat from losing their season-high third straight game. While the
Heat have already wrapped up the No. 1 seed and home-court
advantage for the Eastern Conference playoffs, they're stumbling at
"We had a chance to put them away," Wade said. "They are a
team playing for their playoff lives and you could see that
O'Neal returned after missing three games with a stomach ailment
and viral infection that left him unable to eat for several days.
Coach Stan Van Gundy limited O'Neal to 30 minutes in regulation. He
scored 13 points and missed two clutch free throws in the final
minute of OT.
O'Neal did not talk to reporters after the game.
Andre Iguodala opened overtime with a couple of high-flying
dunks, and Iverson stole an inbounds pass and fed Korver for a
Miami's Damon Jones started complaining to the referees after
the play and was whistled for a technical foul. Iverson made the
free throw for a 114-106 lead.
"That steal was ridiculous," Heat coach Stan Van Gundy said.
"We should be able to get the ball inbounds."
Jones came down and drilled a 3, then glared at the officials.
Trailing by three with a minute left, O'Neal bricked a couple of
free throws. Jackson's 18-footer from the left wing gave the Sixers
a 118-113 lead and sealed the win.
"When we approach the game mentally the right way, these are
the results," Iverson said.
The Sixers made 33 of 34 free throws and the Heat went
22-for-24. O'Neal missed eight of 11 attempts.
"He looked like Shaq to me," Iverson said, smiling.
O'Neal was a non-factor in the frantic final 1:50 of regulation
with each team trading baskets before a boisterous crowd, giving
the game a playoff atmosphere.
Wade sandwiched a driving layup and a jumper around Webber's
18-footer, and Iverson tied the game 104-all with a couple of free
throws with 11.5 seconds left. Wade was 6-for-9 in the fourth and
had a chance to win it in regulation, but his jumper over Iguodala
was no good.
"I hit some shots, but missed the one at the end of
regulation," Wade said. "I got some good looks at the basket
Wade made 18 of 33 field goals and was 10-for-13 from the line.
Everywhere Wade was on the floor, he found a way to score.
"He showed he's a different kind of player by shooting the ball
the way he did," Iverson said. "Our scouting report said let him
shoot jumpers. But it didn't work. He just played great."
Damon Jones ended the half with consecutive 3-pointers, swishing
a runner just past midcourt as time expired for a 61-52 lead.
Miami activated F Rasual Butler and F Christian Laettner
and placed F Qyntel Woods and C Wang Zhi-Zhi on the injured list.
... The Sixers scored a season high in points. ... The Heat went
1-2 without O'Neal and are 4-3 overall without him in the lineup.
... Iverson matched a career-high in assists.