Iverson had 12 points in the fourth quarter, but he had plenty of help in Philadelphia’s 106-101 on Wednesday night.
“This was a heck of a win for us,” coach Maurice Cheeks said. “And it was very much a team win. Sam (Dalembert) had a big block for us in the fourth quarter, Johnny Salmons had some big baskets and Chris (Webber) was fantastic.
“Let’s don’t forget Allen Iverson. Allen put us in position to win. But this was still a prime example of a team effort.”
Webber had 21 points and 13 rebounds for his 26th double-double of the season. Kyle Korver added 14 points, including three 3-pointers in the final period. Salmons had 10 points and four rebounds, and praised Iverson.
“He had it going again,” Salmons said. “He’s just one of those special players. Whatever makes a great player great, that’s what he has. I don’t know what it is for sure but I’m trying to get it.
“The good thing tonight is we all contributed when it was critical. When he’s dominating like that and we keep moving and getting our shots, we can beat anybody—even Detroit.”
The Rockets wouldn’t argue on this night.
“Pretty much down the stretch, those guys got any shots they wanted,” said Tracy McGrady, who led Houston with 25 points, including 12 in the third quarter when Houston led by as many as 11.
“Not only were they shots they wanted, but they were shots in the paint and those are pretty good shots. We didn’t do a good job of preventing them from getting those shots.”
Coach Jeff Gundy agreed.
“That was a very disappointing fourth quarter,” he said. “The level of defense, the intensity, was not correct and the shot selection was outside-in versus inside-out.
“That’s very disappointing and we deserve what we got.”
A day after it was reported that Iverson was not among the players invited to U.S. national team training camp, he responded with his 12th game of 40 or more points this season. His season high was 53 at Atlanta on Dec. 23 and he is averaging 33 points, the most of his nine-year career.
A late 8-0 run, with six points from Iverson, gave the 76ers a 104-98 lead with 1:38 to play. Iverson wrapped it up with a 17-foot jumper with 21 seconds to play for the game’s final basket.
Yao Ming had 22 points and 13 rebounds for his career high-tying fifth straight double-double and 20th of the season. He had five straight once before in 2002.
McGrady scored eight straight points early in the third quarter to put Houston up 53-49. A 12-3 run, including back-to-back 3s by Rafer Alston and David Wesley, gave Houston its biggest lead of the night at 67-56 with 5:02 to play in the third.
Philadelphia led by as many as eight early in the second quarter before a 10-2 run, including five points by Chuck Hayes, gave the Rockets a 39-37 lead with 4:02 left in the half. Iverson had 19 at halftime as the 76ers led 47-45.
Iverson had 11 in the first quarter as the 76ers led by as many as five. But four free throws by Juwan Howard in the final 1:15 of the period pulled Houston back within 22-21.
The 76ers activated backup center Dalembert before the game. He had missed three games with a left ankle sprain. He played nearly 20 minutes and had seven points and two rebounds. “I’m glad to have him back,” coach Maurice Cheeks said. “Especially with Yao Ming here. You have to be very tentative with how you play Yao Ming.” … F Stromile Swift returned to the active lineup after missing four games with a right ankle sprain. He did not play. … Dikembe Mutombo got a technical foul early in the second quarter after blocking Iverson’s shot and punctuating it with his infamous finger wagging as Iverson sprawled on the floor. … The Rockets had won their last 13 straight at home, including five this season, when scoring 100 or more points. Their last home loss when scoring more than 100 was a 117-111 overtime loss to Sacramento Jan. 28 of last season.