7:30 PM ET, October 12, 2005
7:30 PM ET, October 12, 2005
Iverson got a huge ovation from the nearly sold-out crowd of 17,551 on Wednesday, many wearing Iverson's No. 3 jersey and screaming as loud as they could when his name was called for pregame introductions.
"It was a great feeling, man," Iverson said. "My first time being here, people embracing me the way they were. It's something I'm going to cherish ... It kind of made me more nervous, just wanting to give them a good show."
And that's what Iverson did, scoring 27 points and finishing with seven assists to lead the 76ers to a 100-88 preseason victory over San Antonio.
Iverson played the first quarter and most of the second half. That was more than enough for the Sixers (1-1) playing at South Carolina's home arena.
The contest also gave Duncan a chance to reconnect with his old Wake Forest coach, Dave Odom, who's now with the Gamecocks. Duncan had dinner at Odom's house Tuesday night and goofed around with South Carolina players during some informal drills hours before tipoff.
"I haven't been around him in so long, not for anything other than our paths just haven't crossed," Duncan said. "It was great to have some time ... and talk about old times."
Still, there was no doubt that Iverson was the fan favorite. He got the largest ovation during pregame introductions. Cameraphones were aimed in his direction and flashes popped whenever he touched the ball.
One of Iverson's flashiest sequences came in the third quarter when he took a pass on the left baseline and quickly moved past Bruce Bowen, with Duncan closing on defense -- and getting called for a foul on his fellow star. Iverson made both free throws to put the 76ers up 64-56.
Moments later, Iverson drove past San Antonio's Stephen Graham, gliding right behind Duncan, whose back was turned to the play. The time, the ball fell in and Iverson finished the three-point play for a 69-62 lead over San Antonio (0-2).
Iverson, though, says he doesn't concentrate on marquee matchups. "If I start thinking about who's on the opposing team and I've got to play well against that team, then the next night when we play against guys without the big names, then you don't play so well," Iverson said. "So you try and keep a consistent approach."
Iverson seemed as excited at the solid play of his teammates. After Lee Nailon made a 15-foot jumper on a play that didn't go through Iverson, Philadelphia's floor leader pumped his fist in Nailon's direction.
Iverson closed his night with a running 20-footer, turning and shaking his head in the universal playground taunt that he couldn't be stopped. His final cheer came a few moments later when he was replaced by Kevin Ollie.
"I think it sends a bad message when we lose these preseason games," Iverson said.
Duncan played half the first quarter and all of the third for the defending NBA champions. He finished with 12 points and eight rebounds.
However, the Spurs' Duncan appreciation tour continues Thursday with a game against Washington at Wake Forest, Duncan's alma mater.
"You can only like the guy so much," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. "After a while, it's 'OK, OK, we get it.' It's like a farewell tour."
As for the game, San Antonio closed to 88-86 on Graham's basket with 6 minutes to go. But John Salmons and Ollie each made two foul shots and Kyle Korver hit back-to-back 3-pointers to extend the 76ers' lead.
Philadelphia played its second straight game without Chris Webber, out with a right quad strain and not traveling with the club. Coach Maurice Cheeks said he was not worried about Webber's condition and hoped to have him back for the last two or three preseason games.