CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)—Andre Iguodala drove the lane on a breakaway, cocked back and unleashed a vicious one-handed windmill dunk.
The game-clinching jam in the final minute of Philadelphia’s 103-96 win over Charlotte on Saturday night signaled a couple of things: The 76ers apparently can be successful on offense after a month of misery, and the Bobcats have plenty of problems in their locker room.
Iguodala scored 33 points, and Andre Miller added 23 in a rare good performance for the Sixers, who had lost three straight and 11 of 13. With Samuel Dalembert grabbing 14 rebounds and the Sixers dominating the inside, Philadelphia rallied from an 11-point first-half deficit to earn a much-needed win.
“It’s been tough,” coach Maurice Cheeks said of the Sixers, who had failed to reach 90 points in five of their last 10 games. “Our guys hang in there. They keep fighting. They never stop. At some point it’s going to turn for us if we keep playing the way we’re playing.”
Just a few feet away from Cheeks, Bobcats first-year coach Sam Vincent had a much different message. He ripped his backup point guard and accused his players of not fighting hard enough.
“The coaching staff cares an awful lot about winning, but the guys on the floor have to care about winning more than the coaching staff,” Vincent said after the Bobcats shot 40 percent. “We need that fire. We need that passion from the players. We need them to really want to win.”
Jason Richardson, who scored 35 points, seemed stunned when told of Vincent’s comments.
“Oh my goodness. I’ll take any one of these guys on the team, night in and night out,” Richardson said. “We play hurt. We play with no rest. I don’t understand where that came from. We play passionate all the time. I don’t know if it’s frustration by him, but I don’t understand it.”
Without point guard Raymond Felton, who turned his left ankle a night before in a win in Chicago, Jeff McInnis ran the point. McInnis had four points on 2-of-5 shooting, and Vincent didn’t like what he saw, playing him only four minutes in the fourth quarter.
“They were really sagging off Jeff and they were really trying to help on other people,” Vincent said. “Whenever they do that, it makes it tough because now you’re playing four on five.”
That, too, brought an angry response from McInnis.
“I guess I missed a shot or two. I guess I can’t play if I miss a shot,” McInnis said.
It should make for an interesting five-hour flight to Los Angeles on Sunday, as the Bobcats prepare to begin a five-game trip while holding a 3-13 road mark.
It may be why Vincent was so frustrated after Charlotte lost a winnable game against the struggling Sixers, who had lost in New York on Friday night.
Charlotte had a shot when Richardson’s 3-pointer with 2:15 left cut the deficit to 98-93. The Bobcats had chances to get closer, but Gerald Wallace missed two shots and then barely hit iron on a 3-point attempt.
Iguodala then put it away with his powerful dunk 40.4 seconds left.
Iguodala hit 13 of 21 shots, finishing one point shy of his career high while Miller continually beat the Bobcats off the dribble and had nine assists.
“I just got in a groove. ‘Dre Miller found me in some spots and got me going,” Iguodala said. “He got me some dunks down in the lane. Late in the game my jump shots starting going.”
Getting numerous second chances from offensive rebounds, Philadelphia took its first lead of the game midway through the third quarter, then closed the period on a 13-0 run to take an 80-71 lead on Iguodala’s runner with less than a second left.
Iguodala’s three-point play gave Philadelphia an 85-73 lead with 9:19 left, before Charlotte’s late rally fell short.
Wallace added 20 points for the Bobcats, but shot 4-for-17 and was held without a field goal in the second half when the Sixers stepped up defensively. Emeka Okafor had 17 points and 16 rebounds in a dismal performance for Charlotte that raises questions about Vincent, in his first season as an NBA coach.
“I stand over there and scream and yell the whole time, motivate guys to play,” Vincent said. “I need to see that from the guys on the floor.”
Vincent was targeting Wednesday for Felton’s return. Felton made it clear he hoped to play Monday against the Los Angeles Clippers. … Sixers rookie Thaddeus Young had six points and four rebounds in his first career start, replacing Reggie Evans. … Sixers G Gordan Giricek did not play in his first trip to Charlotte since he was banished to the locker room by Utah coach Jerry Sloan on Dec. 19. Giricek never played for the Jazz again, and was traded 10 days later. … Wallace announced he was forming a charitable foundation. The first project will be to renovate a Charlotte park.