Allen Iverson picked the perfect time to turn in one of the best performances of his career.
Iverson scored a league season-high 54 points Saturday in the 76ers’ 116-97 win over the Milwaukee Bucks. The offensive outburst matched the second-highest total of Iverson’s career and fell just four points shy of his career high.
Iverson, who made 17 of 29 shots and 16 of 21 free throws, also became just the seventh active player and 93rd in NBA history to reach 15,000 career points.
“I called his play as many times as I possibly could, and it makes my job a lot easier,” Philadelphia coach Jim O’Brien said.
The performance helped Philadelphia shake off a demoralizing 113-107 overtime loss to the New York Knicks the previous night in which the Sixers blew a 19-point fourth-quarter lead.
The 76ers allowed the Bucks to get within a point after opening an 18-point, third-quarter lead, but went on a 9-0 run to regain control of the game. Philadelphia has won four of its last five games after losing six straight.
“We’re starting to get some things, and four out of five (games won) is a good indicator,” O’Brien said.
Iverson, who has scored at least 50 points seven times in his career, sat out the final few minutes of Saturday’s win but said that he didn’t mind not getting the chance to set a new career-high.
“Honestly, all I wanted was for the Milwaukee Bucks to be down one point once there were all zeroes on the board,” he said.
The Jazz lost 94-93 to the New York Knicks on Sunday for their 10th defeat in their last 12 games and seventh straight on the road. Matt Harpring scored 21, Raja Bell added 20 and Carlos Boozer 19 for Utah.
“I thought we tried harder,” coach Jerry Sloan said. “You can only feel sorry for yourself for so long, and then someday you’re either going to get up and fight or lay down in the corner in the fetal position for the rest of your career.”
Sloan replaced Mehmet Okur in the starting lineup with seldom-used Aleksandar Radojevic, who had scored just eight points in five games. Okur had 13 points and 14 rebounds as a reserve, and Radojevic finished with five points, four rebounds, four fouls, three turnovers and no field goals in 26 minutes.
“I thought he played pretty well the other night. I thought he deserved a chance,” Sloan said of Radojevic, who helped Utah outscore Boston 39-28 in the fourth quarter of a 114-106 loss on Friday.