Iguodala pushes Sixers past Nets
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Andre Iguodala scored a career-high 27 points and dished out eight assists, as Philadelphia won a battle of the benches, 91-88, over New Jersey at the Wachovia Center.
The contest lacked star power, as Sixers guard Allen Iverson and forward Chris Webber did not play or even sit on the bench in street clothes. Iguodala picked up his game in their absence, and Willie Green scored 14 points in the victory.
"One of the reasons why they were not going to play was that while we were in the playoff race Chris (Webber) and Allen (Iverson) were playing with a few injuries and they tried to continue to play," said Sixers head coach Maurice Cheeks. "Then, once we fell out of the playoff race - it got a little tougher. Chris (Webber) had a bad back, Allen (Iverson) was playing with numerous injuries and once we were out of the race - there was no reason for them to play."
Steven Hunter tallied 10 points and pulled down seven rebounds, as the Sixers snapped a two-game skid. Philadelphia dominated in the paint, outscoring New Jersey 44-18 underneath the rim.
"You always wanted to get that last win at home. The season hasn't gone exactly the way we wanted it to go, but you want to end it right - so that's what we're trying to do," said Philadelphia forward Kyle Korver.
Vince Carter played into the third quarter, scoring 16 points and dishing out five assists. Carter's field goal late in the third period pushed him past Bernard King for the club single-season points record. King totaled 1,909 points during the 1977-78 season, while Carter reached 1,911 points on the basket. He then exited the game and did not return.
While Carter shined, both Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson did not play, electing to rest up for the playoffs.
Lamond Murray led the Nets with 19 points, while Clifford Robinson donated 14 points, as the club saw its two-game winning streak come to an end.
"We're just trying to get healthy so that whoever our first-round opponent is we're ready to roll," said New Jersey head coach Lawrence Frank.
New Jersey is firmly entrenched in the third playoff spot for the upcoming Eastern Conference playoffs.
Philadelphia tallied the final eight points of the third period to take a two- point lead. Iguodala scored the first three points, Korver drained a trey and Shavlik Randolph's dunk gave the Sixers a 67-65 lead with 23 seconds on the clock.
The momentum continued to the fourth quarter, as the Sixers reeled off eight of nine points to take an 80-73 lead. Iguodala slammed home a perfect lob pass from Matt Barnes and Green drained a three to cap the spurt with 6:01 left.
Two free throws by Green gave Philadelphia an 85-75 lead with 4:41 remaining.
Trailing 87-78, New Jersey connected on six straight free throws, the last two coming from Murray, to cut the deficit to three with 2:05 remaining.
Iguodala buried a jumper to create some breathing room with 1:51 left, and both Zoran Planinic and Bostjan Nachbar missed jumpers in the next minute.
Planinic converted a layup to make the score 89-86 with 33 seconds left then New Jersey forced a John Salmons' air ball on the other end.
Murray missed a three, but Nachbar grabbed the offensive rebound and converted the layup to cut the deficit to one with 3.1 ticks to play.
The Nets fouled Iguodala, who drained both free throws to again make it a three-point lead.
Planinic missed a game-tying trey as time expired to give Philadelphia the victory.
With Webber and Iverson not even on the bench, the Sixers came out flat in their final home game of the season.
The Nets ended the first stanza with a 19-8 scoring stretch to hold a 29-14 edge. Murray drained a free throw to make the score 15-6 and later buried another long-distance jumper to increase the lead to 29-12 with 21 ticks left.
New Jersey was the team that displayed offensive futility in the second stanza, as the collection of bench players continued to make establishing a rhythm difficult.
The Sixers closed the half on an 8-1 run to pull within 43-37. Iguodala's three-point play with 20 seconds remaining capped the first-half scoring.
Philadelphia won three of four meetings with the Nets this season...New Jersey will close out its season at home versus the New York Knicks on Wednesday...Philadelphia will play at Charlotte in its season finale on Wednesday...New Jersey converted 20-of-24 from the charity stripe.NJN PHI