PHILADELPHIA (AP)—The only Answer the Philadelphia 76ers have is on the trading block.
The Sixers still can’t find one to their losing streak, dropping their ninth straight game, 101-81 to the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night.
Paul Pierce and Ryan Gomes each scored 18 points, and Tony Allen had 16 for the Celtics, who won their third straight game on the road and moved to .500 there with wins at New Jersey and New York. Al Jefferson added 13 rebounds for Boston, which is suddenly making a run at the wretched Atlantic Division lead.
“That’s the best part. It was three division wins,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “I don’t care if it’s against the best teams or the worst teams.”
Maybe adding someone like Allen Iverson (aka “The Answer) to the roster could put them on top of the worst division in basketball. The Celtics were one of the hot rumored destinations for Iverson, who was inactive for the fourth straight game while Philadelphia tries to trade the former MVP.
Sure, but Iverson’s name on the roster is the only proof he’s still with Philadelphia, and that connection is thinner than the paper it’s printed on.
Once one of the fiercest rivalries in the NBA, the 76ers-Celtics series has cooled over the last decade. Without Iverson crashing all over the court, the rivalry loses a little more luster.
“The whole feeling of the game was different,” Pierce said. “There was not much energy in the building. I guess it’s time for him to move on. The trade is what he wanted. He wants to be happy.”
Meanwhile, the Sixers are downright miserable. They are sliding toward one of their worst seasons in franchise history. They have lost nine straight for the first time since a 13-game losing streak in 1996-97; lost 13 of 14 overall; and have only two wins since a now long-ago 3-0 start.
“It’s a challenge for me, and a challenge for them every day,” Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said. “I’m up for the challenge.”
Perhaps he needs to get his team up for some defense.
Pierce hit two 3-pointers and scored 12 points in the third quarter to help turn a tie early in the quarter into a 13-point lead. He hit one of his 3s during a 12-2 run that made it 60-48 and effectively finished off the lowly Sixers. When Pierce went deep again, it put the Celtics up 17.
Delonte West made the play of the game in the fourth quarter, making a nifty hook pass in the lane off the break to Rajon Rondo for a layup and an 80-61 lead. After Wally Szczerbiak hit a 3 a few possessions later, what was left of another minuscule crowd booed the Sixers off the court.
West, a former Saint Joseph’s standout, scored 13 points and Szczerbiak had 14.
“The offense was great, but I’m most proud of our defense,” Rivers said.
When the buzzer sounded, a despondent Kyle Korver stared ahead, his hands on his head. The rest of the Sixers trudged off the court as the boos continued. Much like the Celtics, the Sixers were powerless to stop them.
“Obviously, I can’t blame them,” Sixers center Samuel Dalembert said. “All I can say is just believe in us and support us.”
Sixers F Rodney Carney sat out with the flu. … While West wants to stay in Boston, he’d welcome the challenge if he was traded for Iverson. “You could look at it as a positive, psyche yourself up,” West said. “They traded me for Allen so they want me to be the new franchise.” … Former Sixers president Pat Croce was sorry to see Iverson’s relationship with the team end on a sour note. “I thought he was changing, he was maturing,” Croce said. “When I left, he was great. He did everything he needed to do. He never missed any of our charity events with me, from children’s hospitals to nursing homes.” … Former Villanova star and Celtics rookie G Allan Ray received a nice ovation when he checked in late in the game.