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Sixers stay close but lose to Pacers, extend skid to 12

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Now that the Philadelphia 76ers are done
trying to find Allen Iverson a new home, they can work on somehow
ending their long losing streak.

Jermaine O'Neal scored 34 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and
Stephen Jackson had 25 points to lead the Indiana Pacers to a
101-93 win over Philadelphia on Wednesday night, the last-place
76ers' 12th straight loss.

"Philly is a desperate team," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said.
"I know this game, they had it circled."

O'Neal and Jackson took turns down the stretch making clutch
baskets to hold off a spirited Sixers team playing their first game
in more than 10 years without Iverson on the roster.

Andre Iguodala and Kyle Korver each scored 20 points for the
Sixers, a night after they traded Iverson to Denver for Andre
Miller, Joe Smith and two 2007 first-round picks. Iverson was
inactive for his final six games in Philadelphia after a bitter
split with the franchise that made him the No. 1 overall draft pick
in 1996.

"I think we need some extra fresh legs coming off the bench,"
Iguodala said. "We made a few mental mistakes near the end of the
game and I think that's what it was from."

Iverson will probably make his Denver debut Friday night at home
against Sacramento. The Nuggets postponed their game Wednesday
night against Phoenix because of a snowstorm.

No Iverson, and no Chris Webber again, either. Webber missed his
third straight game because of a sprained right ankle.

The Sixers, who have lost 19 of 21 overall, are on their longest
losing streak since they dropped 13 straight from Dec. 28, 1996, to
Jan. 20, 1997. The Sixers also have dropped 10 in a row on the
road. It's been a tough time to be a Wachovia Center tenant: The
Flyers have lost a franchise-record seven straight games, making it
19 consecutive losses for Philly's NHL and NBA teams. Neither has
won in December.

In an odd twist, former Sixers coach Larry Brown could return to
the organization he led to the 2001 NBA finals. Brown, who had a
contentious relationship with Iverson during his six seasons as
Philadelphia's coach, moved back to the area after he was fired by
the Knicks and was acting as an adviser to Sixers team president
Billy King.

Brown also coached the Pacers, who improved to 14-13 thanks to
O'Neal and Jackson. Korver hit a basket that tied the score 84-all
late in the fourth and got a rise out of another sparse crowd.
O'Neal and Jackson hit four free throws to give Indiana a one-point
lead.

With 1:40 left, Jackson made a 22-foot jumper from the left side
over the outstretched arms of two charging defenders to make it
90-87. He followed with another bucket the next time down. O'Neal
put the game out of reach with another basket with 50 seconds left
and the Pacers pulled away from there.

Danny Granger scored 15 points and Jeff Foster had 11 rebounds
for the Pacers.

"Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen Jackson played great. They made
huge plays," Carlisle said.

Samuel Dalembert had 16 points and 13 rebounds, and Willie Green
added 16 points for the Sixers.

"Our effort was good, not good enough to win the game," Sixers
coach Maurice Cheeks said.

While the Sixers are focused on getting out of last place, they
know a reunion with Iverson is on the horizon. They play at Denver
on Jan. 2.

"He's going to be coming at us that night," Korver said.

Game notes
Pacers president Larry Bird said Indiana was never a
serious contender in Iverson trade talks. "We made one call, I
think, and the price was too high," he said. "Allen's been a
great player over the years. When a player stands up and wants out,
you've got to do something to try and help the franchise. Billy did
a good job. It's tough under the circumstances." ... Sixers C
Steven Hunter chuckled when asked his opinion on Sixers fans
wanting the team to lose to increase its chances at winning the No.
1 pick in the draft lottery. "In any other place, I might doubt
that statement, but here, you could be right," he said. Hunter did
not play because of knee tendinitis.