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Trail Blazers beat Sixers, spoil Cheeks' return

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- The Portland Trail Blazers warmly welcomed
former coach Maurice Cheeks back to the Rose Garden. Then they beat
him.

Zach Randolph had 28 points and 14 rebounds and the Blazers
defeated Cheeks' new team, the Philadelphia 76ers, 95-91 on
Wednesday night.

"It felt good, you know?" Randolph said. "My old coach. It
felt good."

After the game, Cheeks and Randolph respectfully shook hands.

The Trail Blazers have won three straight for the first time
since last February -- when Cheeks was their coach. It was his first
visit to Portland since the Blazers fired him last March.

But the win didn't come easily for the Blazers, and Philadelphia
kept it close until the end.

The 76ers tied it at 84 with 1:08 left after Andre Iguodala made
a pair of free throws.

Portland took back the lead and held on, going up 91-86 on Steve
Blake's foul shots with 21 seconds left.

Blake made two more, but Kyle Korver hit a 3-pointer to make it
93-91 with 3.9 seconds left, before Blake made another two foul
shots with 2.4 seconds remaining for the final margin.

When Cheeks strode on to the court before the game, he was
greeted with an enthusiastic round of applause, and many in the
crowd stood to honor the well-liked coach. He embraced the coach
who took over in Portland, Nate McMillan.

"We have to move on and not live in the past," Cheeks said.
"I've moved on and the Blazers have moved on."

It was the second time Cheeks has faced his former team this
season. The 76ers beat Portland 107-83 in Philadelphia on Nov 29.

Iverson had 28 points and six assists, a night after he had 36
points and 10 assists, and hit a go-ahead jumper with 4.2 seconds
left for a 108-106 76ers' victory at Denver.

Iverson said he rolled his ankle against the Nuggets, but he
nonetheless played all 48 minutes against Portland.

"It felt terrible but I was glad I played all the way through
so I didn't have to sit down and have it stiffen up," Iverson
said. "It stiffened up real bad at halftime but I managed to get
through it."

Korver had 24 points. Dixon added 18 for the Blazers.

"We just wanted to win this game, it didn't matter who it was.
We needed to get three in a row," Blake said. "It's so much
better when you win, so much better."

The 76ers went up 49-42 late in the first half on Iguodala's
dunk, but the Blazers used a 8-1 run to tie it at 50 at the half.

Philadelphia quickly reclaimed the lead to open the second half,
but Portland took a 59-57 lead on Dixon's layup.

The Blazers couldn't stretch the margin, and at the end of the
third quarter it was again tied, this time at 71. Iverson went
scoreless in the quarter.

"It was a solid team effort from start to finish," McMillan
said. Our guards did an unbelievable job on Allen Iverson, staying
in front of him, making it tough for him."

Despite the winning streak, the Blazers remain hampered by
injuries. Forward Darius Miles is out after having surgery to
repair damaged cartilage in his right knee. Point guard Sebastian
Telfair, who has missed six straight games with a sprained thumb
ligament, is day-to-day.

Cheeks went 162-139 in nearly four seasons with the Trail
Blazers, who had a streak of 22 straight playoff appearances
snapped after they went 41-41 in 2003-04. After he was fired on
March 2, he was replaced in the interim by Kevin Pritchard, the
team's director of player personnel.

The Blazers hired McMillan in the offseason.

Game notes
The Blazers said Miles had a post-surgery infection,
causing a setback in his recovery. There is no timetable for his
return. ... Blazers center Joel Przybilla was inactive for the game
because of a sore knee. ... The loss snapped a three-game
Philadelphia winning streak at the Rose Garden.