Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 11/15

Game 1: Saturday, November 15th
Game 2: Friday, December 19th
Game 3: Saturday, January 24th
Game 4: Friday, March 26th

Cavaliers 71

(31-40, 11-24 away)

76ers 86

(31-42, 20-16 home)

    Coverage: CSN

    7:00 PM ET, March 26, 2004

    Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA

    1 2 3 4 T
    CLE 16 18 17 2071
    PHI 25 19 25 1786

    Top Performers

    Cleveland: L. James 16 Pts, 3 Reb, 7 Ast, 1 Blk

    Philadelphia: K. Thomas 19 Pts, 9 Reb, 4 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

    Cavs drop fourth straight

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- John Salmons and the Philadelphia 76ers keep getting better in Allen Iverson's absence.

    After setting a career-high earlier in the week, Salmons established a new mark with 22 points while leading Philadelphia to a 86-71 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night, keeping the Sixers' once-fading playoff hopes alive.

    Salmons made six of his first seven shots and registered double figures for the sixth time in his last 10 games. In 15 starts this season, he is averaging 10 points.

    "The season is so long," Salmons said. "It's been hard to stay focused when we're losing and there's coaching changes and injuries. The year's been so crazy that I'm just trying to stay focused on what I have to do."

    Kenny Thomas had 19 points and Eric Snow added 13 assists for the Sixers, who never trailed to win their third straight game -- all without injured All-Star Iverson.

    Iverson was again absent from the bench and the locker room following the game. His status for Sunday's game in Boston is uncertain, the team said. The Sixers are 7-1 in their last eight without Iverson.

    "Why is it just without Allen? We have four guys out," Snow said. "You're going to talk about who's out, talk about everybody. It's a team game. That's why we have 12, 13 guys."

    Cleveland lost its fourth in a row, and Philadelphia pulled within one game of the Cavaliers, who fell a half-game behind Boston for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

    LeBron James had 16 points on 5-for-13 shooting to lead Cleveland, which had won seven straight prior to its slide. Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored 15.

    "We're just not playing the way we were three weeks ago," James said. "A lot of other teams have been stepping up and we really aren't. But we're OK. We're going to find it."

    Salmons, who had 21 points in Monday's win over Dallas, sank a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter, including one with 6:02 remaining that gave the Sixers a 15-point lead.

    Salmons had a steal in between two baskets by Thomas that put Philadelphia ahead 69-51 after three, leading to a standing ovation from a crowd that has booed the Sixers often this season.

    "The crowd has been great," Snow said. "They supported us even when we were losing, still coming out and helping us out."

    Philadelphia started the final quarter with a 10-3 spurt, but Ilgauskas had seven points and Kedrick Brown six during a 17-3 run that cut the lead to 11. Salmons and Aaron McKie then made layups to end the threat.

    McKie and Samuel Dalembert had 12 points each. Dalembert added 10 rebounds for his 10th double-double.

    The Sixers shot 7-of-13 on 3-pointers and are 29-for-49 during their winning streak.

    "We have some real good shooters on this team," Salmons said. "Teams have been doubling Kenny a lot and he's been finding the open guy."

    The Cavaliers, who shot just 33 percent in the first half, trimmed a nine-point deficit to four with 4:40 remaining in the second quarter, but Kyle Korver made a 3 to start a 10-2 Sixers run. Korver closed the spurt with an 18-footer before James sank a pair of free throws to make it 44-34 Philadelphia at halftime.

    "Everybody is going to have to pick it up," Cleveland coach Paul Silas said. "The energy level is just not there."

    Game notes

    Ilgauskas wore a mask to protect his nose, which was broken in Tuesday's loss to Phoenix. ... Cavaliers F Carlos Boozer had 11 rebounds. ... Sixers F Amal McCaskill saw his first action since injuring his back on March 9. ... Philadelphia F Greg Buckner left the game in the second quarter with a sprained foot and did not return. ... Cleveland won the first three games of the season series. ... The last time the Sixers led the entire game was the season opener against Miami.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 71 86
    FGM-FGA 27-69 (.391) 33-73 (.452)
    3PM-3PA 3-6 (.500) 7-13 (.538)
    FTM-FTA 14-20 (.700) 13-18 (.722)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 11-32 14-41
    Assists 18 21
    Turnovers 12 12
    Steals 4 7
    Blocks 8 3
    Fast Break Points 0 6
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 16 (0/0) 16 (2/0)

    Top Performers

    LeBron James James
    Points: 16
    Reb: 3
    Ast: 7
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 1
    Kenny Thomas Thomas
    Points: 19
    Reb: 9
    Ast: 4
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 1