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Iguodala, Sixers blitz Knicks in second half

Jan 18, 2009 - 4:42 AM By Larry Fleisher PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NEW YORK (Ticker) -- Andre Iguodala has been hitting from all over the court and the Philadelphia 76ers have put forth one more thing for their city to be proud of.

Iguodala scored 28 points and the Sixers ran their season-high winning streak to seven games Saturday night with a 107-97 victory over the New York Knicks.

Andre Miller added 27 points for Philadelphia (20-20), which reached .500 for the first time since November 24, when it was 7-7 following a loss in Charlotte.

Going into the season after last year's second-half run and the signing of free agent Elton Brand, winning half their games is still a disappointment for the 76ers but the way they have played in the last month is something they can take pride in.

"I think it's just trying to set a goal every five-game series and trying to win a majority of those games and get ourselves in a position to be right where we're supposed to be, which is the top of the Eastern Conference," Iguodala said. "Not just .500 - but above that."

"Our goal has always been playoffs," Sixers interim coach Tony DiLeo said. "We set the goal of playoffs in the big picture. We have short-term goals but long-term goals is playoffs so

we set that right at the beginning.

"We knew it was going to be a tough climb, and it still is a tough climb. So we got bigger and better things hopefully."

A 17-point loss in Utah dropped Philadelphia to 12-18 but since then it has won eight of its last 10 while holding opponents under 100 points in 10 of the last 12.

"I don't think about it (.500)," Miller said. "It's good to get to .500. It's definitely taken a lot of hard work to get there."

Al Harrington scored 17 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter and rookie Danilo Gallinari returned to the lineup following a 2-1/2 month absence for New York, which was within one with just over five minutes remaining but was outscored, 16-7, down the stretch.

"There is a lot of things we have to improve on," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said after his team shot just under 37 percent (14-of-38) and committed 11 turnovers in the second half. We have to keep up the ball movement. We can't just jack up shots."

"My first thought is that the end of the game, we lost," Gallinari said. "So I'm not so happy."

Following impressive double-digit home wins over Portland and San Antonio, Philadelphia shot just under 51 percent (43-of-85) and nobody was hotter than Iguodala, who came into the game shooting 55 percent in his previous nine games. He then hit seven of his first 10 shots and 10-of-17 overall.

"It's just being in a good rhythm and guys are doing a good job of putting me in position where I can get looks," Iguodala said after scoring 20 or more points for the 11th time 14 games. "The crazy thing is I'm still finding things I can add to my game. I'm not really at my peak yet."

One was a 3-pointer with one-tenth of a second remaining in the first half that put Philadelphia ahead 52-50 at the break. It was the fourth buzzer-beater that the Sixers hit in the last 24 hours.

Iguodala had two in the first half of Friday's win and his 26-foot 3-pointer helped the Sixers complete their comeback from an eight-point deficit.

"Andre Iguodala's been off the charts and I'm surprised he missed the shot at the end of the quarter because he had a streak going there," DiLeo said. "He's just been great."

"The percentages are evening out and the game's coming easy right now," Iguodala said.

Those were momentum-killers for a battle-tested team like the Spurs and the shot proved devastating for the Knicks, who could not recover from a third quarter that saw them shoot 5-of-20 and commit eight turnovers.

"We got some stops," Iguodala said. "When we got those stops, we were running out on the breaks. I think I scored two points in the third, but I was finding guys everywhere, and we were able to finish a lot of breaks. We were running the floor, basically our style of play - fast break."

"I thought we turned it around in the third quarter," DiLeo said. "Finally, we got some stops and we got out on the break and we played more the way we want to play. I think that was the turning point."

Despite New York's struggles, it managed to hang around and was within 76-66 after Harrington hit a 3-pointer with 2.4 seconds left. That capped a quarter in which the Knicks hit one basket on their first 15 possessions and allowed the Sixers to score the first eight points.

The Knicks got within single digits when Gallinari and Harrington combined to sink three straight 3-pointers. That cut the deficit to 84-81 and New York was within one midway through the fourth, when Harrington buried another 3-pointer with 5:02 remaining.

Philadelphia then scored the next 11 points and was never threatened again.

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    76ers 107, Knicks 97  FinalJan 18 1:57 AM

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    76ers 88, Knicks 85  4th - 6:00Jan 17 9:43 PM

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