Sixers Beat Heat, Still Perfect

Laura Bernstein checks the skies as she blows snow from her driveway, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2007, in Urbandale, Iowa. AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Clutch defense at the finish gave the Philadelphia 76ers their best start in 16 years.

Philadelphia improved the NBA's best record to 4-0 by stopping the Miami Heat twice in the final 10 seconds for an 84-82 victory Saturday night.

It's the best start by the 76ers since they were 5-0 in 1984.

"After four games, you have to say they're the best team in the Eastern Conference," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "With their quickness and offensive explosiveness, they're very talented. And they've been together three or four years now."

The Heat, with four new starters this season, lost their second close game in as many nights. Eddie Jones led Miami with 26 points, including six 3-pointers, but missed a 25-footer with nine seconds to go.

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  • A bad pass by Toni Kukoc gave Miami one last chance with 3.4 seconds left, but after Tim Hardaway took an inbounds pass near midcourt, Eric Snow stole the ball to give Philadelphia the win.

    "We had a foul to give, so I took a chance," Snow said.

    Hardaway followed the officials off the court, arguing he had been fouled by Snow.

    "He came across my whole body," Hardaway said. "But that's no excuse. We were up by 13 points and let them come back."

    Allen Iverson scored 23 points for the 76ers, who overcame a 54-41 deficit.

    "We had them on the ropes," Riley said. "That's where the game was lost. We stopped playing."

    Hardaway ha23 points and 11 assists, but Miami's starting front line totaled just 21 points.

    Philadelphia guards Iverson, Snow and Vernon Maxwell were a combined 13-for-45, and the 76ers shot less than 40 percent. But they outscored the Heat 23-8 at the free throw line and held the opposition to 82 points or less for the third time.

    "We won with our defense," coach Larry Brown said. "In these four games we've defended great. We've had a lot of guys step up."

    The 76ers have been unfazed by a tough schedule, winning in four cities in the first five nights of the season.

    "We're becoming more mature, and we're very confident with each other," Snow said.

    Tyrone Hill's basket put Philadelphia ahead 78-76 with six minutes left, and the Heat went scoreless on their next six possessions as the 76ers increased the lead to 84-76.

    Three-pointers by Jones and Hardaway cut the margin to 84-82, but the Heat could get no closer.

    The Heat scored 11 consecutive points and held Iverson without a field goal for 15 minutes as they took a 54-41 lead early in the second half. But Philadelphia responded with 14-2 run, and a basket by Iverson gave the 76ers the lead for good, 62-61.

    Consecutive baskets by Kukoc, including a 3-pointer, put Philadelphia ahead 75-66. Jones hit back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 75-74.

    Notes

  • The Heat fell to 13-4 against the 76ers since Riley became coach.
  • Miami's Duane Causwell made his 1,000th career field goal and Hardaway sank his 5,000th in the first quarter.
  • Iverson missed both games in Miami last season, once because of an injury and once when he was a suspended for missing a team shootaround.


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