PHILADELPHIA (AP)—LeBron James knew this was a big victory.
“It’s one of the biggest wins I’ve had in my three years here,” James said. “I wanted to give us an opportunity to try to win. It doesn’t matter how many points were down, we just kept saying, ‘Win the ballgame, by any means necessary.”’
“LeBron is amazing,” said Cavaliers coach Mike Brown. “We didn’t do anything tricky down the stretch. We put the ball in his hands and he helped win the game for us. This guy is making me look like I can coach.”
Cleveland, which trailed 111-106 with 4:57 left, went on a 13-5 run capped by a three-point play from James with 1:02 remaining to take a 117-116 lead.
Iverson missed a tough 14-foot jumper with 44 seconds left and James, who had his fifth career triple-double, added another score. Iverson made two free throws, but Cleveland’s Damon Jones answered with two of his own with 17 seconds left.
The Sixers’ John Salmons scored on a driving lay up 11 seconds later, but Jones finished the game off with two free throws. Iverson missed a 23-foot, tying 3-point attempt at the buzzer.
After the Sixers took a 16-point lead with 3:24 left in the third quarter, the Cavaliers went on a 16-6 run to pull within 96-90. James capped the run with an emphatic dunk, and Jones had two 3s during the spurt.
Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said he was disappointed with his teams inability to defend the Cavaliers screen and roll plays.
“We’ve got to come up with a way to defend it,” he said. “Larry Hughes and LeBron James obviously are very good, but it came down to the screen and roll.”
Iverson scored 14 in the first quarter, hitting his first five shots of the game. Hughes had 10 for the Cavaliers and James nine, including a dunk with 4.9 seconds left in the opening period as the Cavaliers pulled within a point at 31-30.
Hughes scored 12 points in the second quarter on 5-for-7 shooting, but the Cavaliers were outscored 35-27 and the Sixers led 66-57 at halftime.
The Sixers’ 66 points in the first half tied the team’s season-high for points in a half, and the Cavaliers set a season-high with 66 points in the second half. Iverson and Webber both recorded double doubles for the second time this season. Iverson had 12 assists… Sixers C Samuel Dalembert remained inactive Saturday with strained right quadriceps. He has yet to play this season. … Mary Carey, the former porn star who ran for governor of California last year, attended the game.