“Just get your swagger back,” Webber said Iverson told him. “That’s really what I did. It helped me out.”
Webber had his best performance in his four games with Philadelphia, scoring 24 points and grabbing 12 rebounds, and Iverson added 31 points to lead the 76ers to a 98-89 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night.
Samuel Dalembert had 15 points for the Sixers, who won for the second time in four games with Webber in the lineup.
Webber looked a little more like the All-Star the 76ers hoped they were getting in their blockbuster trade. While Philadelphia remained 2 1/2 games behind Boston in the Atlantic Division, Webber gave a glimpse of what he could contribute down the stretch.
“I think every little bit helps your confidence,” Webber said. “One day you’re averaging a number that many people don’t do in three categories and the next day you’re worthless. And that’s from myself, I don’t even care what everyone else is saying.”
Iverson, who had nine assists, knew Webber was trying too hard to meet monstrous expectations.
“I just know how tough it is on him,” Iverson said. “He wants to play well so bad. He wants to fit in with the team. A lot of times when you’re thinking about something like that instead of just playing basketball, you struggle.”
Cleveland’s five-game losing streak is its longest of the season. After leading the Central Division for much of the first half, the Cavaliers are sliding back in the Eastern Conference race.
The Cavaliers also dropped their seventh straight road game, losing their composure in the fourth quarter and allowing the Sixers to coast in the last few minutes. The Cavaliers had a season-high 27 turnovers that led to 27 Philadelphia points.
James wasn’t too worried about the slump.
“We lost nine games in a row last year and got out of it,” he said. “We’re not hanging our heads low. I’ve been through this before and it’s only my second season.”
James lost his cool after he thought he was fouled on a layup that pulled the Cavs to 83-80. He argued over the non-call and was hit with a technical foul.
The Sixers pulled away from there. Kyle Korver hit the free throw, and Webber hit long jumpers before and after a basket by Dalembert to give the 76ers a 10-point lead.
After making his second jumper, Webber whirled around, smiled and pumped his fist. While his shooting percentage wasn’t great—11-for-28—Webber made a few nifty plays that showed why the Sixers thought they made a steal of a deal to get him from Sacramento.
Webber struggled in his first three games with Philadelphia, shooting a combined 17-for-54, and not immediately clicking with Iverson to provide the potent inside-outside game that was expected. Against the Cavs, Webber took a small step toward fitting in.
“There comes a point where you have to have self pride and say, ‘I’m going to make this work and fit in,”’ Webber said.
He missed seven of his 10 shots in the first quarter before shooting 50 percent in the second quarter and 60 percent in the third. In the third quarter, Webber’s no-look pass in the lane allowed Dalembert to complete a three-point play. On Philly’s next possession, Webber came right down and made a 20-footer to give the Sixers a seven-point lead.
“I thank the guys for being patient,” Webber said.
With more games like this one, it will be worth the wait.
Cavs coach Paul Silas benched F Drew Gooden and started Robert Traylor. It was Traylor’s first start since 1999-2000 with Milwaukee. “I don’t have any scoring off the bench,” Silas said. “I’m hoping Drew coming off the bench can be my go-to guy.” … Cavs G Eric Snow scored six points in his first game against the Sixers since they traded him last summer. Snow spent 6 1/2 seasons with the 76ers, averaging 9.7 points and 6.6 assists while helping them to the 2001 Eastern Conference championship. … Iverson was whistled for a technical in the third quarter. He also became the 73rd player in NBA history to score 16,000 career points.