76ers 78, Pistons 76

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP)—A Philadelphia 76ers shooting guard lofted a difficult shot over the reigning defensive player of the year, then made a play at the other end to seal a victory.

No, it wasn’t Allen Iverson.

Aaron McKie, filling in for Iverson, tied a season-high with 21 points and blocked a shot as time expired in the Sixers’ 78-76 win over the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night.

“This was great for our confidence as a team,” McKie said.

Iverson, the NBA’s leading scorer at 29.4 points per game, stayed home to rest his right knee, which he banged Friday against Miami. The Sixers hope he will be able to play Friday against Denver.

McKie took his place and looked a little like Iverson when he made a fadeaway jumper over Ben Wallace just before the shot clock expired to give the Sixers a 75-70 lead with 1:37 left.

The 6-foot-5 McKie blocked 7-footer Mehmet Okur’s jumper, which could have forced overtime, to seal the win.

“We needed him to have his legs with Allen out, and he definitely showed that he did on those two big plays for us,” Philadelphia coach Randy Ayers said. “We needed Aaron and Eric (Snow) to step up huge in this game and we couldn’t have asked for more from them.”

Snow, McKie’s backcourt mate, had 17 points and seven assists.

Chauncey Billups had 29 points and Richard Hamilton scored 15 for the Pistons, who were held to a season-low 31 points in the first half and 37.3-percent shooting overall.

“With Allen out, we have to be more of a defensive team because our scoring suffers,” said Snow, who had three of Philadelphia’s nine steals.

After the Pistons trailed by nine midway through the fourth quarter, they pulled within three points on five occasions.

The first four times, Philadelphia responded with shots or stops. The fifth time, Hamilton stole the ball from Snow and scored on a layup to cut Detroit’s deficit to 77-76 with 34.3 seconds left.

Snow missed a long jumper on the ensuing possession, giving the Pistons the ball with 10.7 seconds left.

With a chance to win the game, Tayshaun Prince missed a runner. Derrick Coleman, who scored 11 points, made a free throw with eight-tenths of a second left before Detroit inbounded to Okur for a final attempt.

“They stepped up and we just laid down,” Wallace said. “It’s all about heart and not executing.”

The Sixers, who were also without Glenn Robinson and Marc Jackson, have won a season-high three straight and are 2-0 against their former coach, Larry Brown. The Pistons had won four of five.

Detroit scored just 31 points in the first half, but trailed by only one because the Sixers also struggled to score without Iverson.

“I told them at halftime, I feel terrible because every halftime I feel like I’m pleading the same things,” Brown said. “We put on the board, ‘We play hard, play smart, play unselfishly,’ and I don’t feel very good aboutthose three areas.”


Just before the game, the Pistons sent Darko Milicic home with flu-like symptoms. Milicic, the second pick in the draft, has played in just seven games this season and has not scored. … Detroit’s Chucky Atkins and Zeljko Rebracawere activated from the injured list Tuesday, but only Atkins played.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
E. Snow E. Snow
8-16,  17 Pts
3 Rebs, 7 Assists
C. Billups C. Billups
11-21,  29 Pts
5 Rebs, 3 Assists

Team Stat Leaders