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With Iverson at home, 76ers drop sixth straight game

Dec 9, 2006 - 3:37 AM PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- With or without Allen Iverson, the Philadelphia 76ers have plenty of problems.

On a night where the Iverson era came to an end, the 76ers squandered a 20-point lead and suffered a 113-98 setback to the Washington Wizards, their sixth straight loss and 13th in 15 games.

Gilbert Arenas scored 32 points for the Wizards, who have won three straight games and two in a row on the road, where they got off to a franchise-worst 0-8 start. But that was a sideshow to one of the worst days in franchise history for the 76ers.

"It's hard when you watch a guy grow into his own with the same organization," Arenas said. "You never want him to leave. You always want it to work out for the best. Both sides hung in there as long as they could. I guess that A.I. was tired of it and he is ready to win a championship."

A four-time scoring champion and the face of the franchise for more than a decade, Iverson asked for a trade earlier this week, according to owner Ed Snider.

"I know that he is the heart of Philadelphia," Sixers forward Chris Webber said. "I can't imagine Philadelphia without him. I don't know if basketball fans can imagine us without him."

When Iverson arrived at shootaround Friday, he was told by coach Maurice Cheeks not to participate. Afterward, Iverson was instructed not to come to the Wachovia Center or join the team for Saturday's game at Orlando.

Asked if Iverson would be traded, Snider said, "No question about it."

"As hard as it is to admit it, a change may be the best thing for everyone," Iverson said in a statement. "I hate admitting that because I love the guys on the team and the city of Philadelphia. I truly wanted to retire a 76er."

"I guess it's just the business of basketball," Sixers swingman Andre Iguodala said. "Some guys are going to get moved. Shaq (Shaquille O' Neal) has been moved twice."

Without their best player, the Sixers did not look much different than they did with him. The offense clicked at times but could not compensate for a porous defense that allowed the Wizards back into the game.

Philadelphia opened a 29-20 lead after one period as Webber scored 12 points. Kyle Korver had a pair of 3-pointers in a 17-6 surge that opened the second quarter and gave the Sixers a 46-26 advantage.

But the Wizards closed the deficit to 52-48 at halftime as Arenas scored eight points and DeShawn Stevenson added five.

"For some reason, I thought that we were going to have a chance because we had some open looks that we just didn't make," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "We had a good feeling about ourselves. We had good karma and good teamwork."

Stevenson scored 10 of his season-high 17 points in the third period, when Washington took the lead for good and carried an 81-73 advantage into the final period. He made three 3-pointers.

"I just felt comfortable," said Stevenson, who had just four 3-pointers this season. "I know when my shots are coming. When I first came here it was kind of hard to know the offense, but every day I'm feeling more comfortable."

In the final period, Philadelphia got no closer than eight points, the last time at 100-92 with 3:33 to go. Arenas sealed matters with two free throws and a 3-pointer.

Arenas had been struggling on the road this season, shooting just 28 percent from the field during the slide. But he made 11-of-20 shots - including four 3-pointers - and has 70 points in Washington's two road wins.

"The other night I was cooking chicken and shrimp. Tonight, it was steak and lobster," Arenas said. "When you have the Hibachi grill on, anything can happen. When you go to Benihana's, they pull tricks out of their hat. That's what I did tonight."

Caron Butler had 20 points, 11 rebounds and three steals for the Wizards, who shot 50 percent (40-of-80), including 9-of-22 from the arc. They overcame a 1-of-9 showing by forward Antawn Jamison.

"We survived," Jordan said. "Our forwards weren't scoring the ball in the first half."

Webber had 21 points and 10 boards, Korver scored 20 points and Iguodala added 13 for the Sixers, who shot 49 percent (38-of-77). That trio will have to carry the offense in Iverson's absence.

"I concentrate on whatever guys are in my locker room and it doesn't matter who it is," Cheeks said. "Right now, those guys who are in the locker room is what I'm concentrating on and I feel good about the guys I have in there."

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