PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Maybe it was the players-only paintball
outing. Or maybe the earful the 76ers received from coach Maurice
Cheeks got their attention. Possibly, it was the 2½ hour practices.
Whatever the reason, Philadelphia's woeful defense was wonderful
"We gave up 86 points in an overtime game. We've given that up
in three quarters a lot of times lately," Sixers forward Kyle
After a 28-point loss at Washington on Monday that saw Cheeks
question the Sixers' effort, and an 11-point loss at home to New
Jersey on Wednesday that had Cheeks chew them out in a nearly
30-minute team meeting, the Sixers desperately needed a tough
defensive effort and a win.
They got both.
The Sixers had allowed 100 points in four straight games and
only Seattle allows more points than their 102.9 average. But from
the first quarter when Samuel Dalembert blocked three shots to
overtime when he had two clutch blocks on Pau Gasol, defense led
"This would have been a bad one to lose, man, because we did
put our effort on defense," Iverson said. "We did play one of the
best defensive games that we played."
Iverson had a chance to tie the game 79-all in the final seconds
of regulation on a driving layup but he lost control of the ball
and it knocked off his knee. Already barking at the referees the
entire game, Iverson argued he was fouled, though replays showed he
simply muffed it.
But with a chance to seal the win for Memphis with 7.3 seconds
left, Eddie Jones missed two free throws.
"I felt good going to the line," Jones said. "I shot them all
the same. I should iced the game. This one's on me."
Iverson threw an inbounds pass to Chris Webber, who dished it
back to the former MVP near the top of the 3-point arc. Iverson
then hit an 18-foot fallaway jumper from the left side with 3.2
seconds to go that tied the game and sent the faithful into a
Webber opened overtime with a three-point play, Korver sank a
3-pointer and Dalembert had his blocked shots to give the Sixers a
"I don't want to underestimate the win. We needed a win,"
Webber finished with 29 points and Dalembert grabbed 11
"I feel badly for us," Grizzlies coach Mike Fratello said.
"We got ourselves back after a shaky start. Both teams needed this
Trying to shake out of a funk, the Sixers had been holding
longer practices that focused mostly on defense. After their loss
to the Nets, Cheeks challenged his team to stick together and keep
Taking Cheeks' message to heart, the players watched film then
went on a paintball trip on Thursday. Before the game, several
players called it the most fun they had all year.
"We've been looking for something to get us going for a
while," Korver said. "We had some long practices, we had some
long meetings. But we got back to having fun out there. When you're
having fun, you're going to player harder. When you're playing
harder, you're playing better defense."
While the Sixers showed signs of improvement on defense early,
they struggled in the second half once Jones and Mike Miller found
Jones put Memphis ahead for the first time since the game's
opening minutes when he sank a couple of free throws, only to have
the Sixers take the lead right back on a pair of foul shots by
Miller then hit two 3-pointers about 30 seconds apart and gave
the Grizzlies a 63-60 lead. They made it 68-64 at the end of the
quarter and led all the way until the Sixers scored the final six
points in the fourth to send it into OT.
With their surprisingly aggressive defense and an offense
shooting at 50 percent, the Sixers built a 17-point lead in the
second quarter and led 47-39 at halftime.
Korver was one of the organizers of the paintball outing
... Andre Iguodala and Antonio Burks had a nasty collision at
midcourt chasing a loose ball midway through the fourth. Burks went
down hard, grabbed his face and left the game. ... Memphis hasn't
won on the road since Dec. 31.