The Philadelphia 76ers have proven in the last two games that they can win without Allen Iverson. They’ll need another total team effort in their next game if Iverson can’t play with the Phoenix Suns coming to town.
Philadelphia got another balanced effort from its lineup and defeated Orlando 89-81 on Sunday. Iverson, who sprained his ankle in an overtime loss to the Magic on Thursday, watched his team win again without him as four 76ers scored in double figures.
On Saturday, the Sixers had four players in double figures as they routed New York 91-76.
“If you’re missing a player like Allen, you have to overcompensate,” Philadelphia coach Maurice Cheeks said. “I think everyone knew they had to step up and do a little bit more. You’re not going to replace a guy like Allen, who scores 33-34 points a game (33.6), but you can replace him at other areas when you get production from everyone and you can see the production because of the balanced scoring.”
Iverson, who is day-to-day, missed seven games last season due to injuries, and Philadelphia went 2-5.
Leading the 76ers’ more balanced attack in the last two games has been forward Chris Webber, who had 18 points and a season-high eight assists Sunday, and a team-high 21 points and 10 rebounds Saturday.
With five wins in its last six games, Philadelphia has pulled even with New Jersey, loser of four in a row, for first place in the Atlantic Division. The Nets face the Detroit Pistons, owners of the NBA’s best record, on the road Tuesday night.
While the Sixers might have a chance to move atop the division Tuesday, they’ll need to do their part and defeat a Phoenix club that leads the NBA with 106.3 points per game.
Philadelphia has held its last two opponents under 100 points, but the 76ers are fourth-worst in the league at 101.3 points allowed per contest, and the Suns haven’t scored less than 100 since Jan. 17.
Phoenix will be looking to bounce back from a 113-106 loss to Cleveland on Sunday. LeBron James, third in the league in scoring behind Iverson at 31.2 points per contest, scored 32 of his 44 points in the second half to rally Cleveland from a 17-point, third-quarter deficit.
“He made a million highlights in a very short time,” said reigning league MVP Steve Nash, who led Phoenix with 24 points.
The defeat dropped the Suns to 2-2 on their six-game eastern road swing. Phoenix concludes the trip Wednesday against Boston.
Phoenix has won the last four matchups with Philadelphia.