PHILADELPHIA -- The 76ers mobbed each other at midcourt and the fans went wild as confetti made out of programs and scraps fluttered through the air.
This might have been the only type of win more rare in Philly than one in a championship game:
Down 25 in the second quarter, 22 in the third, the Sixers never flinched.
Louis Williams and Andre Iguodala got their games going with one unstoppable and improbable basket after another in the fourth to rally the Sixers to a simply stunning 92-88 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.
"Anything can happen, so we kept playing," Iguodala said.
The Sixers played hard, played together and never gave up.
Oh, it also helps when the shots are falling.
The Sixers made 25 of 33 shots in the second half for the highest-shooting percentage in a half in team history (76 percent). They played nothing like the team that missed 15 straight shots spanning the first two quarters and scored only 27 points in the first half.
"I've never been involved in a game like that," coach Maurice Cheeks said. "The first half was dismal and we just hung in there, we stayed together and it just says something about the character they have."
Williams was the difference, scoring all 19 of his points in the second half and creating a burst of excitement for a team that needed any kind of spark to get their season going.
Williams scored the last 10 points of the third and the first four of the fourth that kickstarted the rally. He assisted on Thaddeus Young's layup that cut it nine, and Iguodala scored on a spin move to make it 77-70.
"It's easier when the game seems to be out of reach to come in like that," Williams said. "I'm more relaxed and just want to play hard."
Five times in the quarter the Sixers made it a one-point game, only to fall short of taking the lead.
But Iguodala, who led the Sixers with 22 points, sank a pair of free throws with one minute left that made it 89-88. He sealed the win with a pull-up 19-footer and the fans that stuck around for the most amazing win in recent team history tossed homemade confetti in the air.
Andre Miller scored 13 points as the Sixers outscored Portland 36-15 in the quarter and went 13-for-16 from the floor.
"A game like this creates energy for us and for the city," Williams said. "Now we've got to take this energy into the next game."
"I don't know where to start," Roy said. "It's tough to explain."
No one who watched the first three quarters could have seen this coming, especially from a rebuilding Sixers team that entered on a four-game losing streak and looked anemic early in this one.
The Trail Blazers led 41-16 in the second quarter and 64-42 late in the third.
The second quarter was particularly atrocious for the Sixers.
Travis Outlaw, Jarrett Jack and Martell Webster opened the quarter with consecutive 3-pointers to give Portland a 30-14 lead. The Trail Blazers could have stopped there and they would have still led at halftime.
Unlike the Sixers, they couldn't miss. Jack hit a runner, then swished an 18-footer that made it 38-14 and Portland stretched the lead to 45-27 at the break.
The Sixers missed their first 14 shots in nearly every kind of variety.
The Sixers were helpless. Willie Green botched a left-handed layup (0-for-11) then missed a jumper (0-for-12) on the same possession. Green also misfired on a jumper (0-for-13).
When Reggie Evans made a routine layup with 3:54 left in the quarter, the field goal drought was mercifully over. On a night that drew the biggest crowds of the week, only a few thousand were in their seats for this one. The ones that paid money to watch all stood and erupted in a mock cheer after the easy basket.
Fast forward two quarters later and the diehards celebrated as if the Sixers won a championship.
Roy sank a 3-pointer with 2:46 left that gave Portland a four-point cushion. But Williams hit a 3 and Iguodala would add two more free throws that made it an 88-87 game with 1:30 to go.
Aldridge dunked between the two Sixers scores - their last points of the game.
"It's a lesson learned," Portland coach Nate McMillan said. "If you mess with the game, the game will mess with you."
|Victory is in reach for Philadelphia and Louis Williams, who scores 19 points. (AP)|
|Philadelphia (3-6) «||14||13||29||36||92|
|POR:L. Aldridge 25 Pts
POR:J. Przybilla 7 Reb
POR:S. Blake 6 Ast
|PHI:A. Iguodala 22 Pts
PHI:R. Evans 9 Reb
PHI:A. Iguodala 7 Ast
|Players of the Game|
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|B. Roy, SG||41||8-16||8-9||3||4||2||25|
|M. Webster, SG||39||3-8||3-4||2||1||4||10|
|L. Aldridge, PF||38||10-16||5-5||6||2||2||25|
|S. Blake, PG||35||2-6||1-2||3||6||2||6|
|C. Frye, PF||19||3-4||2-2||2||1||3||8|
|J. Jack, PG||26||3-9||0-0||2||3||3||7|
|T. Outlaw, SF||23||1-4||0-0||4||1||3||3|
|J. Przybilla, C||10||1-5||0-0||7||0||0||2|
|S. Rodriguez, PG||9||1-3||0-0||1||2||0||2|
|R. LaFrentz, PF||Did Not Play|
|D. Miles, SF||Did Not Play|
|J. Jones, SF||Did Not Play|
|T. Green, PG||Did Not Play|
|J. McRoberts, PF||Did Not Play|
|G. Oden, C||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|A. Iguodala, SF||39||7-12||7-8||4||7||5||22|
|W. Green, SG||33||4-13||0-0||5||1||0||8|
|A. Miller, PG||27||6-11||1-2||3||2||0||13|
|R. Evans, PF||24||2-3||0-0||9||1||3||4|
|S. Dalembert, C||10||1-2||0-0||1||0||5||2|
|L. Williams, SG||25||8-13||1-1||4||3||1||19|
|J. Smith, PF||24||4-6||4-4||4||0||4||12|
|K. Ollie, PG||20||0-1||0-0||3||4||3||0|
|T. Young, SF||16||3-5||1-2||5||1||1||7|
|R. Carney, SF||13||2-7||0-0||5||0||1||4|
|C. Booth, C||5||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0|
|L. Amundson, PF||3||0-0||1-2||0||0||0||1|
|K. Korver, SF||Did Not Play|
|S. Randolph, PF||Did Not Play|
|H. Hill, PF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|