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Atlanta at Philadelphia

Iverson's 32 points fuel Sixers' opening-night win over Hawks

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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PHILADELPHIA -- Allen Iverson spent his summer worrying Philadelphia would trade him.

Instead, he was back with the 76ers for another opener. But with livelier defense and more confidence down the stretch, it seemed to Iverson as if he was with a whole new team.

Iverson scored 32 points and Andre Iguodala had 15 to lead the 76ers over the Atlanta Hawks 88-75 on Wednesday night.

Samuel Dalembert had 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Chris Webber grabbed 13 rebounds for the Sixers, who improved their mark on opening night to 39-19.

"If you play great defense, you get a chance to make your offense better," Iverson said. "That's how we'll get better, by playing defense. If we can rebound the basketball, I don't think nobody can deal with us."

Joe Johnson led the Hawks with 25 points, and Zaza Pachulia and Josh Childress each had 15. Atlanta lost its eighth straight opener.

Maybe the Sixers didn't have to change their roster to be a better team after all.

With nearly the entire roster back from a team that missed the playoffs for the second time in three seasons and had no significant additions, not much was expected this season from the Sixers.

And with the Eagles underachieving and the Flyers shaking up their personnel, there was little buzz for the Sixers opener, translating into plenty of empty seats, especially in the upper deck.

The Sixers led by as many as 23 late in the third quarter and were poised to turn this one into a blowout until the familiar problem of wasting large leads happened again.

In last season's opener, the Sixers squandered a late double-digit lead in the final minutes and lost in overtime, setting the tone for a familiar pattern the rest of the year. Not this time.

"After last year's first game, this is a step in the right direction," coach Maurice Cheeks said.

But not before the Sixers took a brief detour toward a more troubling direction.

The Hawks chipped away and pulled to 81-71 late in the fourth on Childress' jumper. The Sixers handed Atlanta more opportunities, on a shot clock violation, and missed shots by Iverson and Webber on the same possession, but the Hawks went cold down the stretch and didn't convert either of those chances.

Not surprising. They are the Hawks.

Webber then hit a 17-footer and Dalembert dunked. The lead was back to 15 and the Sixers were back on their way.

"I think we used up too much energy to get it to 10," Childress said. "It's frustrating because it was the first game of the season and we came out flat."

Defense was a training camp priority for the Sixers after pretty much blowing a playoff spot because they couldn't play any last season. The results were promising: Philadelphia held the Hawks to 33 percent shooting and outrebounded them 47-42.

"It's the first game, you know?" Webber said, his twinkle, if not his shooting (4-for-16), in midseason form. "We'll see how it goes after that."

Having an early cushion certainly helped the Sixers survive the late run.

Dalembert hit a turnaround jumper to start a 15-0 run and help the Sixers dash to a 21-4 lead. Iverson hit a 3-pointer during the spurt and Iguodala converted a rare four-point play that energized the crowd.

The Hawks went on a couple of runs here and there, but Iverson hit a jumper from the left wing in the waning seconds to give the Sixers a 49-35 halftime lead.

"We couldn't make shots early in the game, dug a hole and couldn't climb back," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said.

Iverson was back for his 11th season in Philadelphia and didn't look like he lost a step. Iverson scored 30-plus points in a game last season a whopping 49 times and might be able to top that this year now that veteran Kevin Ollie is starting with Iverson in the backcourt and assuming the true point guard role.

Iverson had a solid overall game, going 9-for-21 from the floor, 13-for-14 from the free throw line with six assists.

Notes

  • Webber addressed the crowd before the game, asking the fans for their support and promising a "lot more good times than bad." Webber and Iverson were sharply criticized last season for missing the home finale's Fan Appreciation Night.
  • Atlanta F Lorenzen Wright was suspended for the game for his role in a preseason fight.
  • What's this? Iverson actually in agreement with the media? Instead of doing his postgame newser at the podium, he sat in front of his locker and was mobbed by the media. Iverson wants his relaxed podium setting back. "If you guys cause a whole bunch of commotion, we don't have to do it like this no more," he said. "We can get this straight. All of us have to petition."
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Flying high with A.I.: Allen Iverson goes 9-for-21 from the field and 13-for-14 from the line.  (Getty Images)
Flying high with A.I.: Allen Iverson goes 9-for-21 from the field and 13-for-14 from the line. (Getty Images)

Scoreboard
Atlanta (0-1) 1421231775
Philadelphia (1-0) «2920241588
ATL:J. Johnson 25 Pts
ATL:Z. Pachulia 12 Reb
ATL:J. Johnson 4 Ast
PHI:A. Iverson 32 Pts
PHI:C. Webber 13 Reb
PHI:A. Iverson 6 Ast
Players of the Game
PhiladelphiaAtlanta

A. Iverson

J. Johnson
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
32462544
Atlanta
J. Johnson, SG469-234-444325
Z. Pachulia, PF424-97-8121215
J. Smith, SG332-101-27255
S. Claxton, PG280-53-41033
S. Williams, PF160-20-03030
J. Childress, SG347-161-1102115
T. Lue, PG234-93-312512
S. Stoudamire, SG80-30-02020
S. Jones, PF50-10-01000
M. Freije, SF30-00-01000
C. Bozeman, SG20-00-00000
L. Wright, CDid Not Play
M. Williams, FDid Not Play
R. Ivey, PGDid Not Play
E. Batista, PFDid Not Play
Totals 26-7819-2242112475
 33.3%86.4% 
Philadelphia
A. Iverson, PG439-2113-1446032
A. Iguodala, SG414-85-545215
C. Webber, PF344-160-013328
K. Ollie, PG253-70-02346
S. Dalembert, C254-43-4110411
K. Korver, SF282-82-24136
S. Hunter, C193-40-06036
W. Green, SG101-50-00132
R. Carney, SF81-10-01002
S. Randolph, PF70-00-02010
A. Henderson, PFDid Not Play
B. Jones, SFDid Not Play
I. McFarlin, PFDid Not Play
L. Williams, SGDid Not Play
S. Smith, SFDid Not Play
Totals 31-7423-2547192288
 41.9%92.0% 
Other Games
Ind 106 Final
Char 99
Chi 94 Final
Orl 109
NO 91 Final
Bos 87
Tor 92 Final
NJ 102
Wash 94 Final
Cle 97
Sac 83 Final
Min 92
Mil 105 Final
Det 97
NY 118 Final
Mem 117
Hou 97 Final
Utah 107
Port 110 Final
Sea 106
LAL 110 Final
GS 98
LAC 104 Final
Pho 112