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Dalembert's big effort helps Sixers crush Sonics

Mar 8, 2008 - 4:29 AM By Mike Luongo PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- Samuel Dalembert matched a season high with 22 points and pulled down 13 rebounds as the Philadelphia 76ers pushed their home winning streak to eight games and continued their improbable march to the playoffs with a 117-83 demolition of the Seattle SuperSonics on Friday.

Andre Iguodala and rookie Thaddeus Young added 18 points apiece for the Sixers (29-33), who outscored the Sonics, 56-31, in the second half and shot 56 percent (50-of-89) to hold on to the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference standings.

Dalembert shot 10-of-11 from the floor to exceed 20 points for the first time since January 11. The Haitian center scored 16 in the opening half to set the pace for Philadelphia, which jumped out early and never looked back.

"I just went out there and tried to stay focused," Dalembert said. "The goal is to make the playoffs. When you get the groove and you're feeling the game, you want to be there and help your team."

The Sixers took the early lead with an 12-4 run midway through the first quarter. Reggie Evans chipped in five points during the spurt, including a three-point play which capped the run and gave Philadelphia a 17-12 lead with 4:56 to play.

Young finished the quarter scoring five straight points to give the Sixers a 33-22 lead after the first.

The Sixers scored seven straight points to take a 40-24 lead with 9:44 to go in the second quarter. Iguodala began the run with a 3-pointer and Evans and rookie Jason Smith followed with baskets.

Dalembert scored eight points, including a pair of three-point plays to help keep the Sixers ahead, 61-52, at the half.

"It was important when you come up in key points offensively and do some stuff," Dalembert said. "That gives your teammates confidence. I was fortunate to be in the right situation and be able to contribute."

"He had his legs with him today," Iguodala said of Dalembert. "He had a couple of days off, and we could tell that he was looking for the ball. Just having that kind of presence of a guy who can defend well, block shots and give you a double-double every night is important."

Seattle pulled to within 63-58 on rookie Kevin Durant's jumper with 9:57 to go in the third, but Philadelphia answered with a 15-4 run, capped by Andre Miller's basket which made it 78-62 with 3:02 to go in the third.

"They kept fighting. They are a young team and that's what they do," Iguodala said. "We were able to push the lead back up on the third and get some points. The main thing was that we got some stops."

"They were really more aggressive than we were defensively," Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "Pick any facet of the game, and they were better than we were tonight.

"We had a very poor effort. We did a poor job, as coaches, as players, all of us. We have to find a way to compete no matter what the circumstances."

The Sixers were never threatened thereafter, pushing the lead to as much as 117-78 with 1:13 left in the contest.

Chris Wilcox led the way with 20 points and Durant finished with 14 for Seattle, which lost its third in a row and fell to 6-25 on the road.