With their superstar guard sidelined for the remainder of the regular season, the Sixers look to bolster their playoff hopes as they host the Portland Trail Blazers.
Philadelphia beat Golden State 95-71 on Tuesday, just hours after the team announced that Iverson would be unavailable for the stretch run due to persistent pain in his right knee. The injury had already kept him out of 13 of the previous 19 games.
“It’s all about adapting,” said Sixers coach Chris Ford, whose team has won seven straight at home and four of five overall. “You have to be willing to adapt and adjust, and players have to be able to step up. We’ve been getting that from this group of guys.”
Samuel Dalembert had 18 points and 13 rebounds and Kenny Thomas had 13 points and 14 boards for the Sixers, who are 13-14 this season without Iverson—the NBA’s second-leading scorer with 26.4 points per game.
“We’re just getting it done,” said Philadlephia guard Aaron McKie, who added 18 points. “You can’t look over at the sideline and worry who’s in, who’s out. That’s something we’ve been dealing with for a long time here.”
Philadelphia is in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, two games behind Boston for the eighth and final playoff spot.
Iverson, a five-time All-Star who has been the subject of trade rumors since battling with interim coach Chris Ford, will be re-evaluated if the Sixers make the postseason.
“He wants to play. What he doesn’t want is people saying he doesn’t want to play because of Chris Ford,” Sixers team president Billy King said. “He loves to play basketball.”
The Blazers did the Sixers a favor on Wednesday, beating the Celtics 105-98 for their ninth victory in 13 games. Darius Miles had a career-high 31 points and Zach Randolph added 18 points and 11 rebounds for Portland, which shot a season-best 61 percent.
The Blazers are tied with Denver for ninth place in the Western Conference, a half-game behind Utah in the race for the eighth spot. The Jazz beat New Orleans 89-76 on Wednesday.
“I told the guys we had to win this game,” Blazers coach Maurice Cheeks said. “We put a lot of emphasis on not making mental mistakes after letting one get away in New York (on Monday).”