for this game

Iguodala scores career-high 31 as 76ers end 12-game skid

Dec 23, 2006 - 7:22 AM BOSTON (Ticker) -- The Philadelphia 76ers are looking for a new identity. Andre Iguodala may be giving them one.

Iguodala scored a career-high 31 points and added nine assists as the 76ers ended a 12-game losing streak with a 98-83 victory over the Paul Pierce-less Boston Celtics.

Kevin Ollie had 14 points, eight assists and six rebounds for the 76ers, who had last lost 13 straight during the 1996-97 season.

"I think that was a great team effort by all our guys," 76ers coach Maurice Cheek said. "We all talked about hanging in there to win this game. After 12 straight losses, we were looking for the champagne when we got into the locker room."

Philadelphia, which entered a league-worst 5-19, had dropped all seven games without superstar Allen Iverson, who had been the face of the organization for the past 11 years before being traded to Denver on Tuesday.

The two players the 76ers received in exchange for Iverson, guard Andre Miller and forward Joe Smith, passed their physicals too late to play.

Nonetheless, the Sixers were in control throughout, but the Celtics used an 8-0 run to move within 75-71 with 9:52 left in the game. Gerald Green, who started in Pierce's place, hit a pair of free throws and knocked down a 3-pointer before Tony Allen converted a three-point play off a fast break to cap the run.

But the 76ers' Kyle Korver immediately responded with a 3-pointer and a jumper to push the edge to nine with 8:55 left. Korver finished with 14 points in 23 minutes off the bench and Samuel Dalembert added 14 points and 12 rebounds.

"It's a relief. It's like carrying a big bag of potatoes for a long time," Dalembert said. "I feel good. Mentally, now we know we're confident, a little more confident and now we know what we need to do. Hopefully, we learn from today."

Iguodala, who finished 11-of-15 from the floor, beat the 24-second clock with a jumper from the right corner with 2 1/2 minutes to give Philadelphia a 90-81 lead.

"I think it's a big sigh of relief for us to get the win," Iguodala said. "I think we put a good game together. We executed our game but we have to move onto the next game and that's tomorrow.

"I think I was just playing with the flow of the game. I wasn't really forcing anything. I wasn't even rushing when I was out there. I was just having fun, looking for my opportunities and just taking advantage of them."

Pierce, who is averaging 26.6 points, 7.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists, is out at least two to three weeks with a stress reaction in his left foot.

"That's one game without (Pierce) and we scored 83 points," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "I told the guys that I'm extremely disappointed because (nobody) came tonight to think about defense. Everybody on our team was thinking about how we were going to divvy up the offense.

"We ain't outscoring anybody with what we have. I didn't see any silver lining from any player. This team without Wally (Szczerbiak) and Paul has to be great defensively, and if we are not then we'll keep losing."

The Celtics, playing their second straight game without Szczerbiak, who is nursing an extended ankle injury, allowed Philadelphia to shoot 54 percent (41-of-76) and forced just nine turnovers.

"I can take losing but not this way," Rivers said. "I think they thought they were tougher. The one clear thing I did see is that (the 76ers) have been clearly working without their guys. We played like they did when we faced them the last time.

"None of them can replace Paul or Wally. None of them are good enough to put this team on their back and win a game. I told them, don't think this is free basketball. This is nothing like it was last year when we just played the young guys to get experience. We want to win these games."

Green finished with 20 points on 7-of-17 shooting and added nine rebounds. Al Jefferson had 20 points and 14 rebounds for the Celtics.

"I think every player realized (Rivers' comments) were coming," Green said. "The bottom line is Doc is right. At the end of the day we need to get stops."

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