Jermaine O'Neal scored 34 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and Stephen Jackson had 25 points to lead the Indiana Pacers to a 101-93 win over Philadelphia on Wednesday night, the last-place 76ers' 12th straight loss.
"Philly is a desperate team," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "I know this game, they had it circled."
O'Neal and Jackson took turns down the stretch making clutch baskets to hold off a spirited Sixers team playing their first game in more than 10 years without Iverson on the roster.
Andre Iguodala and Kyle Korver each scored 20 points for the Sixers, a night after they traded Iverson to Denver for Andre Miller, Joe Smith and two 2007 first-round picks. Iverson was inactive for his final six games in Philadelphia after a bitter split with the franchise that made him the No. 1 overall draft pick in 1996.
"I think we need some extra fresh legs coming off the bench," Iguodala said. "We made a few mental mistakes near the end of the game and I think that's what it was from."
Iverson will probably make his Denver debut Friday night at home against Sacramento. The Nuggets postponed their game Wednesday night against Phoenix because of a snowstorm.
No Iverson, and no Chris Webber again, either. Webber missed his third straight game because of a sprained right ankle.
The Sixers, who have lost 19 of 21 overall, are on their longest losing streak since they dropped 13 straight from Dec. 28, 1996, to Jan. 20, 1997. The Sixers also have dropped 10 in a row on the road. It's been a tough time to be a Wachovia Center tenant: The Flyers have lost a franchise-record seven straight games, making it 19 consecutive losses for Philly's NHL and NBA teams. Neither has won in December.
In an odd twist, former Sixers coach Larry Brown could return to the organization he led to the 2001 NBA finals. Brown, who had a contentious relationship with Iverson during his six seasons as Philadelphia's coach, moved back to the area after he was fired by the Knicks and was acting as an adviser to Sixers team president Billy King.
Brown also coached the Pacers, who improved to 14-13 thanks to O'Neal and Jackson. Korver hit a basket that tied the score 84-all late in the fourth and got a rise out of another sparse crowd. O'Neal and Jackson hit four free throws to give Indiana a one-point lead.
With 1:40 left, Jackson made a 22-foot jumper from the left side over the outstretched arms of two charging defenders to make it 90-87. He followed with another bucket the next time down. O'Neal put the game out of reach with another basket with 50 seconds left and the Pacers pulled away from there.
"Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen Jackson played great. They made huge plays," Carlisle said.
"Our effort was good, not good enough to win the game," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said.
While the Sixers are focused on getting out of last place, they know a reunion with Iverson is on the horizon. They play at Denver on Jan. 2.
"He's going to be coming at us that night," Korver said.
- Pacers president Larry Bird said Indiana was never a serious contender in Iverson trade talks. "We made one call, I think, and the price was too high," he said. "Allen's been a great player over the years. When a player stands up and wants out, you've got to do something to try and help the franchise. Billy did a good job. It's tough under the circumstances."
- Sixers C Steven Hunter chuckled when asked his opinion on Sixers fans wanting the team to lose to increase its chances at winning the No. 1 pick in the draft lottery. "In any other place, I might doubt that statement, but here, you could be right," he said. Hunter did not play because of knee tendinitis.