Two of the quickest guards in the NBA get to face each other four times this season, and the next three will be red-letter days if they go anything like the first. Iverson scored 40 points, while Arenas had 36 in the Philadelphia 76ers’ 112-105 victory over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday.
“That’s what it’s all about. That’s the realness of this league,” Iverson said. “That’s what makes this league so special because you have guys on every team that’s capable of making big things happen on any given night.
“That’s what he was able to do tonight. He played well. He played within himself and his teammates did a good job feeding off him. It was good for us they just couldn’t pull it out.”
The scoring duel started in the first quarter—Arenas had 18 points, Iverson 15—and it stayed as tight as the score itself until the 76ers pulled away in the final two minutes.
Iverson had more than his share of wild misses—he was 12-for-29 from the field—but he never stopped shooting. He also made 14 of 18 free throws, and the 76ers went 24-for-26 from the line in the second half.
Arenas was 11-for-24 from the field and had 10 assists, but made just 3 of 11 shots in the second half and fouled out with seven seconds to play. He was 9-for-14 from the line, including two key misses in the final two minutes.
“It was physical out there,” Arenas said. “They know how to play physical, and they showed us.”
The 76ers played without starters Glenn Robinson (sprained ankle) and Kenny Thomas (bruised back), and Derrick Coleman didn’t play the second half because of the strained left knee that has bothered him all season. Samuel Dalembert picked up the slack for Coleman, finishing with a career-high nine rebounds and 10 points.
Iverson’s acrobatic driving layup put the 76ers up 94-87 with 6 1/2 minutes to play, but Arenas’ steal and dunk soon cut the lead to four. Iverson scored four points in a 6-0 run to get the lead to 10, but Arenas’ 3-pointer pulled the Wizards within three with 2:50 to play.
In the final two minutes, Iverson had a nice alley-oop pass to Dalembert and whiffed on a reverse layup on a fast break. Arenas missed two of four free throws, leaving the Wizards down by three with 1:19 to go. Two free throws by Marc Jackson and Eric Snow’s alley-oop to Dalembert put the game out of reach.
Arenas and Iverson were thrilling all game. Arenas made a 3-pointer, a driving layup and a jumper off a screen as the Wizards jumped to a 12-2 lead. Iverson responded with a 3-pointer, a pair of free throws and a steal-and-dunk to get the 76ers within one.
Both stayed hot, but Arenas got the last word in the first quarter with a 28-foot bank shot at the buzzer that gave Washington a 31-25 lead. Iverson’s 3-pointer tied the game at 46 in the second quarter, but it was answered immediately by a 3 from Arenas. Arenas fed Jarvis Hayes for a breakaway dunk just before the first-half buzzer to send Washington into the locker room ahead 57-50.
But Iverson scored seven straight points, including a desperation jumper at the shot-clock buzzer, in a quarter-ending 7-2 run that put Philadelphia ahead 82-80 going into the fourth.
“Even though they’re short-handed, they play tough, gritty, desire-type basketball,” Washington coach Eddie Jordan said. “We play that for the most part, but they’ve got it down. We’d like to get to that point. … Gilbert, he was at the highest level tonight. He showed some emotions. If he keeps playinglike that, that’s what we need.”
Washington forward Jerry Stackhouse will see a specialist in New York on Friday for an update on his ailing knee. Stackhouse, who hasn’t played this season, still doesn’t have a timetable for his return. … Robinson has missed four games this season, while Thomas sat out his second in a row. … The 76ershave won six straight against the Wizards.