Iverson scores 41 in 76ers' victory over Sonics

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Allen Iverson would almost always rather drive to the basket than settle for a jumper.

Seattle's porous defense gave him ample opportunity to dart down the lane for all the easy baskets he wanted.

Iverson scored 41 points, John Salmons had 18 and Kyle Korver 17 to lead the Philadelphia 76ers over the SuperSonics 107-98 on Monday night.

Although Iverson said he's still slightly bothered by his right ankle, which he sprained Dec. 27 at Denver, it hardly showed as he had one of his top shooting nights of the season.

"It's getting a lot better with treatment and everything, and I'm able to push off it like I want to," Iverson said. "Once it gets loose, I'm able to move around like I want to. I try to get to the basket."

Certainly returning home provided an immediate fix for the slumping Sixers. When they left for a 15-day, seven-game trip, they were in first place in the Atlantic Division; they returned four games back in the division race after a 2-5 mark.

"If we closed games out better, we'd have a lot more wins," Iverson said. "I honesty feel like we gave away eight games this season, games we should have won."

The Sonics have been just as bad, finishing 1-4 on a trip that saw them fire Bob Weiss and replace the coach with Bob Hill.

Hill promised a quicker pace and improvement on defense as ways to turn around Seattle's disappointing season.

Seattle's league-worst defense still needs work.

Iverson scored 40-plus points for the eighth time this season as he chases Kobe Bryant for the league scoring title. Iverson wasn't the only one getting open looks -- the Sixers shot 53 percent from the field, seven points higher than their average.

Chris Webber sat out with a lower back strain and was listed as day-to-day. Coach Maurice Cheeks was hopeful that rest would allow Webber to return for Wednesday's game against Utah.

Salmons started in Webber's place and hardly missed a beat on 7-for-9 shooting. Andre Iguodala had 16 points and Samuel Dalembert 11 to put all five starters in double digits.

"That's how you should play," Iverson said. "When you do share the ball, nine times out of 10, more positive results come of it."

Ray Allen led the Sonics with 27 points and Vladimir Radmanovic had 15 points and 12 rebounds.

The Sonics rallied from a 19-point deficit to pull within six late in the fourth quarter -- hardly surprising since only Seattle allows more points than the Sixers -- after 3-pointers by Allen and a couple of free throws from Rashard Lewis.

Korver, though, sank his fifth 3-pointer and Salmons added a 3 to get the lead back to nine. Stuck on 39 points for a while, Iverson sank two free throws to push him over 40 and give the Sixers a 106-95 lead.

"We took control of the game and shut them down," Dalembert said. "We controlled the tempo of the game and didn't really let them get back in."

Iverson scored nine points during a 19-5 run in the third quarter that gave the Sixers a 79-60 lead. Iverson usually drove through a lane that offered little resistance and little reason for the All-Star to resort to his usual banging and crashing all over the court.

Iverson went 6-for-8 in third for 18 points and the Sixers shot 68 percent in the quarter. Hill blamed fatigue from a long road trip for the Sonics going flat in the third.

"We played pretty well in the first half, then I'm sure our legs got tired," Hill said. "We wouldn't move and we weren't guarding. Away games are tough, but they have to find a way to fight fatigue. That was a winnable game."

With the easy looks, and a mid-range jumper that was on target, Iverson finished 15-for-25 from the floor and made 11 of 13 free throws.

Game notes
Korver hit a 3-pointer for the 26th straight game, the
longest streak in the league. ... Sonics F Danny Fortson sat out
with a sore left knee and C Vitaly Potapenko sat out with a lower
back strain. ... Iverson was briefly shaken up when he was smacked
in the face by Luke Ridnour while they went after a loose ball in
the third quarter. ... Iverson has 67 career games with more than 40 points. ... The Sixers are 8-0 at home against the Western Conference.