The Philadelphia 76ers may be tied for first place in the Atlantic Division, but they know they have a lot of work to do.
Two days after nearly blowing a 25-point lead in the fourth quarter against the NBA’s worst team, Philadelphia meets the expansion Charlotte Bobcats for the first time.
The Sixers beat the 5-32 New Orleans Hornets 95-91 on Monday, but the final score never should have been that close.
Allen Iverson opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer as Philadelphia took an 82-57 lead, but the Hornets then went on a 17-0 run.
The Sixers scored their first points in 7 1/2 minutes when Corliss Williamson’s three-point play made it 85-74. Iverson hit a jumper from the left wing and added another from the baseline for an 89-78 lead.
But New Orleans scored the next seven points to cut the deficit to four, and when Hornets guard Dan Dickau was fouled by Iverson on a 3-point attempt, he made all three free throws to make it 93-91.
Kyle Korver, however, sealed the win for Philadelphia with two free throws.
Iverson was hardly concerned with the close score.
“It don’t matter if we won by 30 or we won by one. It’s the same result,” Iverson said.
Iverson scored 29 points and Kenny Thomas had 21 points and 15 rebounds for Philadelphia, which is just 17-20 but is tied with the Knicks and Celtics atop the division.
“That’s been our ultimate goal, just get to first place and win the Atlantic,” Iverson said. “That’s it. Hopefully today we moved a step closer, but we’ve got a long way to go.”
Charlotte’s late-game struggles continued on Monday with a 99-92 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Bobcats have had trouble making the necessary plays down the stretch, and have dropped five straight and 11 of their last 12 games. Charlotte had a late chance to win the bulk of those contests, including Monday.
The Bobcats cut Milwaukee’s lead to 93-90 on a 3-pointer from Gerald Wallace, who then had a blocked shot on the Bucks’ next possession to keep it a three-point game.
Knight’s turnover was the first of three straight for Charlotte, which couldn’t come up with any more defensive stops.
“We know we are going to be there in the end,” said Wallace, who had 13 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks. “We just don’t know how we’re going to finish. That’s something we are still figuring out.”