for this game

Sixers hold off Nuggets, spoils Iverson's return

Mar 20, 2008 - 3:47 AM PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- The Philadelphia 76ers treated Allen Iverson like any other recent opponent - with a loss.

Andre Miller had 28 points and 12 assists as the surging 76ers escaped with a thrilling 115-113 victory over Iverson and the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night.

It was Iverson's first trip back to Philadelphia since being traded away for Andre Miller and Reggie Evans in December 2006. The nine-time All-Star received a loud standing ovation from fans at the Wachovia Center during introductions of the starting lineups.

"I dreamed it up a certain way, and it was better than that," Iverson said. "It was emotional and it got to me. It made me feel appreciated. It made it (so) the time I spent here was worthwhile."

Iverson went 13-of-24 from the field, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range, en route to 32 points. He also handed out eight assists.

Drafted No. 1 overall out of Georgetown by the Sixers in 1996, Iverson was one of the most outstanding players in club history en route to becoming a cultural icon for the "City of Brotherly Love."

"Philly fans are the best in a sense that they care about their teams," Iverson said. "I know the Philly fans better than anybody. At times, it was, 'We love you A.I,' and at times it was, 'We're going to whip your butt.' First you hear cheers, and then you hear boos. That's what you come to expect."

The 33-year-old captured four scoring titles and a league MVP while guiding Philadelphia to an NBA Finals appearance in 2001 against the Los Angeles Lakers, who won in five games.

With the Sixers holding a one-point edge after three quarters in this one, Philadelphia went on a 14-5 surge to forge a 106-98 advantage on a pair of free throws by Rodney Carney at the 6:31 mark.

But Iverson banged in a 3-pointer and Anthony followed with a two-handed dunk to lock things up at 110-110 with just under three minutes remaining.

Miller converted a three-point play along the baseline, but Iverson returned the favor on the next play with a 3-pointer from the wing to keep the game tied at 113-113.

"In the back of my mind, I'm going, 'How did (Iverson) make that shot?," Sixers guard Willie Green said. "Time and time again, I've seen him do it. He's that kind of player. We just tried to make it tough on him and make him do some things that he didn't want to do."

"It almost ended up perfect," Iverson said. "You know how much I want to win, and how hard I compete. I'm not saying that I'm cool with losing, but I almost had a perfect trip back to my home away from home."

Andre Iguodala's wild shot in the lane was slammed home by Dalembert to give the Sixers a two-point edge with 32 seconds remaining.

"I got past a player and I was trying to draw a foul," said Iguodala, who had 21 points and four steals. "I saw (Marcus) Camby come by to help, so I knew that it was going to be a bad shot. I just flipped it to where I thought Samuel would be at." "It was the right place at the right time," said Dalembert, who had 17 points and 12 boards. "Andre threw the ball in the air, and I was right there. I just went in and put it back."

Denver had an opportunity to tie, but Iverson misfired from the left corner, and Camby also came up short on a 7-footer as Philadelphia picked up its eighth win in nine tries.

"I wanted to step behind and shoot the three," Iverson said. "When I shot it, it didn't feel good. The shot I had before that one felt good, and they were threes. I wanted to take the three and go up one but, unfortunately, I missed."

With the loss, the Nuggets (40-28) fell two games behind the Golden State Warriors (41-25) for the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference playoff race. The Warriors visit the Los Angeles Clippers later Wednesday.