CLEVELAND (AP)—Road wins have been rare for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Victories of any kind have been even rarer lately for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Evan Turner scored 23 points and the 76ers beat Cleveland 97-87 on Friday night, sending the Cavaliers to their season-high seventh straight loss.
Philadelphia, which is 2-16 on the road since Jan. 2, took control in the second half to keep its faint playoff hopes alive.
“Our guys are playing to win, which is great,” coach Doug Collins said. “The spirit of the team is good, which I really like. This was a good win, and I’m very proud of our guys.”
Philadelphia is ninth in the Eastern Conference, but sits 6 1/2 games behind Milwaukee in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot with 10 contests to play.
Turner, who had three points at halftime, scored 13 in the first seven minutes of the third quarter and knocked down several timely shots to help the Sixers build their lead.
“Any type of win is a great win,” he said. “I got in a good rhythm coming right out of halftime. Any time when I’m attacking, I feel like I can be successful. The shots started falling, which was definitely cool.”
The last few weeks have been anything but cool for the Cavaliers, who played again without their starting backcourt of Kyrie Irving (bruised shoulder) and Dion Waiters (sore knee). Cleveland, which has the third-worst record in the East, was officially eliminated from postseason contention Thursday when Milwaukee defeated the Los Angeles Lakers.
In addition to injuries, the Cavaliers’ previous three losses were particularly frustrating. Cleveland squandered a 27-point lead in the second half and lost to Miami at home, was blown out by 38 points in Houston the following game for its worst loss of the season and let a 14-point lead with eight minutes to play get away at home and lost at the buzzer against Boston on Wednesday.
“It’s going to test the kind of character we have in that locker room,” coach Byron Scott said. “It’s very simple. We’re going to see if guys head south, north or wherever.”
Spencer Hawes had 16 points and 11 rebounds for Philadelphia, but Turner, who played his college ball at Ohio State, was the biggest difference.
“Evan was terrific,” Collins said. “I know he always gets keyed up to play here, but tonight was his best game in Cleveland. He had the ball in his hands a lot because we liked his matchup.”
C.J. Miles scored 19 points for Cleveland, which had lost six in a row on two previous occasions. The Cavaliers trailed 77-66 after three quarters, but cut the margin to 78-74 early in the fourth. Turner hit a 3-pointer and a jumper to push the lead back to nine. Holiday added two 3-pointers and scored in the lane to keep the Sixers comfortably ahead.
Cleveland led 45-36 with 1:57 remaining in the second quarter, but the Sixers scored nine straight points to tie it. Tristan Thompson missed two free throws with 0.6 seconds remaining before halftime.
Irving and Waiters both took part in pregame shooting drills, but it’s unclear whether either player will return this season. Irving has missed eight straight games while Waiters has been out the last four contests.
The Cavaliers have also been without center Anderson Varejao who hasn’t played since December after sustaining a split muscle in his leg. Varejao also developed a blood cut after having surgery.
“I can’t worry about the guys who aren’t playing,” Scott said. “The biggest thing with us is we need six or seven guys to play really well. Tonight we didn’t have six or seven guys playing really well.”
NOTES: Former Sixers G Allen Iverson will return for his bobblehead Saturday night when the 76ers host Charlotte. Iverson, who led Philadelphia to the 2001 NBA finals, played for the Sixers from 1996-2007 and again in 2009-10. … G Jeremy Pargo who played 25 games for the Cavaliers this season, scored two points in six minutes for the Sixers. … The Cavaliers play at New Orleans on Sunday. Cleveland hasn’t won on the road since Feb. 26 when it defeated Chicago.