Iverson returns to a city where he’s enjoyed some of his finest moments as a pro when his Philadelphia 76ers visit Cleveland on Saturday.
Iverson, who missed two games this week after surgery to remove an abscessed wisdom tooth, scored a season-high 46 points in his return Friday night, helping Philadelphia (5-7) snap a four-game losing streak with a 123-108 victory over the Chicago Bulls.
He scored 32 points in the second half, made 16 of 17 free throws and also had 10 assists as the 76ers had their highest point total of the season.
“He’s unbelievable,” Sixers forward Kyle Korver said. “He sat out four or five days, had a bunch of turkey, hasn’t done anything. He shoots for 10 minutes before the game and comes out and puts up 46 points and 10 assists in 45 minutes.”
The seven-time all-star guard has thrived throughout his career in Cleveland, averaging 32.6 points in 16 regular-season games there. Two of his 10 career 50-point games have come at Quicken Loans Arena, and he has reached the 40-point mark there two other times.
Iverson had 72 points and 17 assists in two games—a win and a loss—at Cleveland last season. The Sixers split their four-game series with the Cavaliers in 2005-06.
Philadelphia appears as dependent on Iverson as ever this season. When Iverson scores 30 points or more, the 76ers are 4-1, but only 1-6 when he scores less than 30. He is the only player on the team averaging more than 15 points per game.
Korver—second on the team with a 14.4 scoring average—had only nine points Friday.
Cleveland (8-5) got 30 points, seven rebounds and five assists out of its star, LeBron James, on Friday night, but it wasn’t enough to revive the team’s struggling offense in a 97-87 loss at Indiana.
The Cavaliers took an early 21-6 lead and had a 12-point halftime advantage. The Cavaliers let it slip away, however, in a third quarter where they shot 20 percent from the field, committed five turnovers and got outscored 25-9.
“I don’t know if we relaxed, but we didn’t make shots and we turned the ball over,” James said. “It’s always a concern any time you get a big lead like that on the road.”
The loss enabled the Detroit Pistons, who defeated Charlotte, to move into a tie with Cleveland for the Central Division lead.
James is averaging 29.8 points in 10 career games against the Sixers, and scored more than 30 in all four meetings last season.
Webber is doubtful for this contest according to 76ers coach Maurice Cheeks, while Hunter’s status remains day-to-day.
Cleveland, meanwhile, remains without starting guard Larry Hughes, who missed his fifth straight game Friday with a sprained right ankle.