“I’m as disappointed as everybody else on my team,” Iverson said. “We wanted to go into the holidays with a win. We’ll have to get this one out of our system and come back to work.”
Zaza Pachulia added a career-high 23 points, including the go-ahead free throws, and Al Harrington scored 22 for Atlanta, which won its fourth straight at home and its fifth in the last seven games overall.
“We shared the ball,” Pachulia said. “We had 29 assists, and that’s great. We shot pretty good also, 54 percent. It’s tough to beat a team like that.”
Iverson, who entered with a league-best 33.5 scoring average, had 21 points and six rebounds in the first half. He shot 17-of-31 and hit 19 of 21 free throws, the last coming on a three-point play that cut the Atlanta lead to 101-100 with 5:20 remaining.
He broke the record that Shareef Abdur-Rahim set at 7-year-old Philips Arena with a 50-point performance against Detroit on Nov. 23, 2001. Iverson has scored 50 in nine games, including a career-best 60-point effort in a 112-99 win over Orlando last Feb. 12.
Iverson gave the Sixers their last lead when his runner over Johnson and Pachulia made it 105-104 with just under 3 minutes remaining. Pachulia then made two free throws, then added a jumper for a three-point lead.
“When someone is scoring like that, everybody else isn’t involved,” Harrington said. “When they do shoot, they’re ice cold, so that worked in our favor.”
Iverson drove past Salim Stoudamire and Harrington after a steal for the Sixers’ last basket, a layup that cut Atlanta’s lead to 110-108 with 36 seconds remaining. Philadelphia had the ball with 2.4 seconds left when Iverson made an inbounds pass in front of the Atlanta bench to Chris Webber, who missed an 8-foot turnaround jumper.
“I told him before the play that if both men went to me, to go to the basket and get a good shot,” Iverson said. “Things didn’t go the way we wanted tonight.”
Johnson made one free throw, then jumped to intercept Andre Iguodala’s long pass from the Hawks’ baseline.
Two free throws by Iverson gave the Sixers their biggest lead at 82-70 in the third quarter, but the Hawks went on a 26-9 run to go up 96-91 on Stoudamire’s fast-break layup.
“We showed a lot of character coming back from 12 down,” Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. “I thought Iverson was tremendous tonight. He created so many problems for us, but I like that we found a way to overcome that and get the win. We had a number of guys step up in the fourth quarter.”
Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks could tell a big difference when center Samuel Dalembert picked up his fifth foul with 9:02 remaining.
“Our defense is a lot better with Sam in the game, because he can block shots and rebound the ball,” Cheeks said. “They’re a jump-shooting team, with the exception of Harrington. We just have to get better in all areas defensively.”
Iverson stayed home Thursday night to take care of an undisclosed personal matter before joining the Sixers for the morning shootaround Friday. … Philadelphia F Michael Bradley did not make the trip because his wife was expecting to give birth. … Johnson had eight assists. … Webber added 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Sixers. … Iverson, who leads the NBA in minutes, played the entire second half.