They were toyed with, losing 114-107 before their sixth consecutive sellout crowd at KeyArena.
At times the Sonics felt trapped in a video game last night.
They’d dribble downcourt, flash a signal or shout a call and instantly the Philadelphia 76ers would fall into the right defensive rotation. A few seconds later the Sonics’ play would result in a bricked shot, turnover or foul. They were toyed with, losing 114-107 before their sixth consecutive sellout crowd at KeyArena.
“They played good defense as a team. They knew exactly what to do,” said forward Rashard Lewis. “I felt like they studied us for a week or so.”
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The Sixers were outscored 59-55 in the second half but had built all the confidence and scoring they needed in the opening half. Behind Sixers guard Allen Iverson’s 10 points late in the second quarter, Philadelphia stretched its lead to 15 points and took a 59-48 advantage into the break.
It seemed the Sonics were primed for another dazzling comeback early in the third quarter when forward Reggie Evans sprung to life. Evans scored 11 of his season-high 14 points after intermission on a bevy of layups and jump shots inside the paint.
But the excitement that pulled the crowd and the Sonics’ bench to their feet and closed the deficit to 72-69 didn’t last. The Sonics missed five ensuing shots and turned the ball over once to fall behind 83-73 with 1:42 remaining in the quarter.
While Sonics guard Ray Allen dueled with Iverson offensively in the fourth quarter, outscoring him 19-13, it was clear who had control of the game. And it wasn’t the team in white.
Philadelphia led for the final 42:13 of the game and ran all over the Sonics for 23 fast-break points, forcing 17 turnovers. The Sixers also were the more aggressive team, getting to the foul line 17 more times than Seattle.
The Sixers also had their way with the Sonics’ scoring stars, Allen and Lewis. Coach Jim O’Brien rotated Kyle Korver, Kenny Thomas and Andre Iguodala on the potent duo and kept Lewis to seven points until the final second of the game. Allen missed five of his opening six baskets and finished 12 of 24 from the field for a team-high 32 points.
Iverson, averaging 36 points during his team’s 7-2 streak, led all scorers with 34 points. He made his usual array of jaw-dropping shots and was only embarrassed once after Sonics center Jerome James stuffed a shot into his face in the first half. But James made the mistake of trash talking after the play and Iverson scored a tough fadeaway seconds later.
Sonics coach Nate McMillan rotated 11 players in the game, searching for a rhythm and trying to protect his team from early foul trouble. None of the odd combinations produced an offensive flow, however.
“It didn’t make a difference what we did tonight, it didn’t work,” said guard Antonio Daniels. “But it’s one loss. It’s one loss like we’ve been saying all year and our thing is to not lose two in a row.”
The Sonics leave this morning for a five-game road trip beginning tomorrow in Atlanta.
In the Sonics’ win at Philadelphia last month, the team made 18 three-pointers. Last night they were 8 of 23 from beyond the arc.
“That’s a good defensive team,” McMillan said. “They showed that by really making Rashard and Ray work for their points. They basically controlled this game.”
The Sixers (13-14) won their fifth road game overall and their third consecutive on an eight-game road trip. The Sonics fell to 20-6.
“This year we have been playing well against three-point-shooting teams,” said Iverson, who also had nine rebounds and seven assists. “We knew they were gonna come out and hoist up a lot of three-pointers. We just wanted to contest them and not give them a lot of open looks.” Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or email@example.com