The high-flying Wade had a season-high six dunks, came within a rebound of a triple-double and scored a season-high 32 points Friday night to help the Miami Heat beat Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers 106-96.
The loss ended Philadelphia’s six-game winning streak.
Wade had 10 assists, nine rebounds and a handful of highlight-reel baskets. Iverson played 48 minutes and scored 33 points but took only nine shots in the second half.
“It’s tough to match him basket for basket,” Wade said. “He’s a great player. Him coming to the arena lifted my game to another level. Any time you play someone who’s going to be a legend, you want to be up to the challenge.”
Miami’s Antoine Walker added a season-high 26 points off the bench, shooting 11-for-13, including a trio of 3-pointers.
The Heat concluded a 4-0 homestand and took sole possession of first place in the Southeast Division. They improved to 5-2 since Shaquille O’Neal was sidelined by a sprained right ankle.
Starting guard Jason Williams also sat out with a bruised right knee. Replacement Gary Payton, making his first start for the Heat, shot 3-for-10 and had eight turnovers but devoted a lot of his energy to guarding Iverson.
“We contained him, and we got the win,” Payton said. “That’s all we’re looking for.”
With Miami’s depth depleted, coach Stan Van Gundy relied on a seven-man rotation—even after Alonzo Mourning picked up his fifth foul early in the fourth quarter.
“We got absolutely terrific performances from Dwyane and Antoine, and good performances from everyone else,” Van Gundy said.
Wade repeatedly slashed into the lane, and his most acrobatic move came on a drive and spin that ended with his back to the basket before he tossed the ball over his head for the score.
Philadelphia’s Michael Bradley was called for a flagrant foul when he knocked a driving Wade to the floor on the Heat’s next possession. An undeterred Wade hit both free throws, then flew through the lane for another dunk and a 76-61 lead, Miami’s largest of the game.
“We just couldn’t get him under control,” Iverson said. “When he gets to the lane, he jumps so well, so strong.”
Chris Webber had 21 points and 10 rebounds for the 76ers, who lost for the first time since starting the season 0-3. They trailed by at least 11 points for most of the fourth quarter until Iverson hit a driving shot with 2:57 left to make it 96-87.
Wade sealed the win. He sank a jumper, then made an interception and fed Payton for a layup and a 102-90 lead.
Mourning said Wade’s best moves are reminiscent of Michael Jordan.
“I see glimpses of M.J. in him, and he’s still young,” Mourning said. “It’s a joy to play with him. I’ve got the best seat in the house.”
Miami scored 25 points in the final 7:14 of the first half and had a season-high 59 at halftime to lead by seven, despite 21 points from Iverson.
“It’s hard for us to be successful trying to outscore everybody every night,” Iverson said.
Wade, O’Neal, Payton and Walker are on the NBA All-Star ballot from Miami. Iverson, Webber, Andre Iguodala and Samuel Dalembert are 76ers on the ballot. … Iverson leads the NBA in minutes as well as scoring. … Miami’s James Posey made six consecutive 3-pointers over two games before missing in the third quarter.