Originally created 03/10/02

Hawks fall to 76ers



ATLANTA -- Just because Larry Brown thinks the 76ers are playing well doesn't mean the Philadelphia coach is looking ahead.

Allen Iverson scored 28 points and Speedy Claxton added 18 as the Sixers beat the Atlanta Hawks 112-91 Saturday night for their sixth win in seven games.

"I'm not looking at the playoffs," said Brown, who led Philadelphia to the NBA Finals last year. "You can go a week and go from fifth to eighth. We're just going game by game, trying to get better. The biggest thing is Allen is playing at an unbelievable level and other guys are stepping up."

Philadelphia moved four games over .500 for the first time this season and trail Boston by 1 1/2 games for the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Sixers pulled away with a 22-6 run, which included a 16-0 stretch, to start the fourth quarter. Claxton, a reserve guard, provided a pair of steals and three fastbreak layups that turned a 12-point lead into a 19-point advantage.

"That's my job," said Claxton, whose 18 points were his most since returning Dec. 28 from an ankle injury that kept him out eight games. "Bring up the intensity and create some havoc. That's what they pay me to do."

Iverson, the NBA's scoring leader, had finished with at least 40 points in four of the last five games. He can't help thinking about the playoffs, particularly after leading Philadelphia to an Eastern Conference title last season.

"The most important thing now is to get in," Iverson said. "Regardless of everything else, we need to get in. Once we get in, I think everything will take care of itself. Any time you win, it does a lot for your confidence. When you win three or four in a row, you start feeling better."

Atlanta, which had a three-game home winning streak snapped, was led by Shareef Abdur-Rahim's 26 points. Jason Terry added 25 points.

The Hawks struggled in the fourth, committing five turnovers and shooting 7-for-17 from the field. The Sixers had four steals in the period.

"We're playing good defense," Iverson said. "And on offense, we're making things happen."

Brown was even more impressed.

"I don't think we've played any better for five or six minutes all year than we did in the fourth quarter," Brown said. "This is the best Speedy has played in a while. He was phenomenal at both ends. Our guard play just had a good game."

Philadelphia took a 25-15 lead late in the first when Iverson, the NBA's steals leader, batted the ball away from Abdur-Rahim at the top of key, and Claxton followed with a layup.

The Hawks, down by 13 on a 3-pointer by Claxton early in the second, went on a 23-9 run to draw within one on an 18-foot jumper by Hanno Mottola in the final minute.

Philadelphia led 49-43 at the half after Derrick McKey's 3-pointer and two free throws by Iverson.

Terry was the difference, scoring 12 points on 5-for-5 shooting.

"We started missing shots, and they ran out on us," Terry said. "Tough game - it was a game of matchups all night long. They drove the ball at us. They were the aggressor tonight. That's why they won."

Abdur-Rahim took no satisfaction from helping the Hawks stay close until the final period.

"I don't know what that equates to, but a loss is a loss," he said. "We didn't handle their pressure well. Whenever they trapped, we didn't handle it well."

Notes: Sixers F Derrick Coleman missed his third straight game with a hyperextended left knee. ... A sellout crowd of 19,520 was the third of the season. ... The Hawks shot 28.6 percent in the first quarter, and their 14 points came within one point of matching a season-low in the first. ... Atlanta dropped to 4-23 when allowing 100 points. ... Entering with a league-leading .422 opponent field goal percentage, the Sixers held the Hawks to a .451 night. Only three teams have shot better than 50 percent against Philadelphia.