Sixers go to spread offense, and defenseBalance brings 4th win in a rowBy PHIL JASNERjasnerp@phillynews.com
THE 76ERS are 4-3, riding a four-game winning streak. Spread it around.
That's what the Sixers did last night, placing six men in double scoring figures en route to a 113-108 victory over the better-than-you-think Los Angeles Clippers.
That's what they did at the other end of the floor, too, forcing the Clippers into a season-worst 21 turnovers that led to 20 points. They even did it off the glass, with four players taking at least six rebounds.
"That's basketball," Chris Webber said after the Sixers moved into first place in the Atlantic Division. "It's a young season and the main thing is we're winning, because we can only get better if we concentrate and make it that way.''
It was that balance that allowed the Sixers to win while Webber was shooting 4-for-17 and Allen Iverson was committing seven turnovers. Iverson put up 28 points, and was followed in sequence by Lee Nailon (21), John Salmons (14), Webber (13), Andre Iguodala (13) and Kyle Korver (11).
That effort matched the six men who reached double figures against the Atlanta Hawks in the final game of last season. Had Steven Hunter (eight points) managed two more, seven men would have equaled what happened Nov. 10 of last season, in an overtime victory over the New Jersey Nets. Hunter sat out from 10:54 to 7:58 of the third quarter after getting inadvertently poked in the eye by the Clippers' Quinton Ross.
"Me and [Iverson] have been trying to tell the younger guys to set small goals,'' Webber said. "Keep on winning the small ones, we'll be OK. One of the goals needs to be to make sure we try and stay consistent; we're going to be a really good road team. When you protect homecourt, teams don't want to see you, don't want to play you in the playoffs.''
What, a reporter wanted to know, makes Webber believe this early that the Sixers will be so good on the road?
"We like being booed on the road,'' he said. "There's not a feeling like trying to shut 20,000 people up. I've always loved that. And I'm saying that [about this team] as the best compliment, because a lot of guys can only play good at home.
"We weren't, in everybody's eyes, supposed to win that game in Indiana [after an 0-3 start]. That really showed me we had that attitude. I saw it even in the playoffs last season, the way we played against Detroit, the disappointment I saw in guys' eyes when we lost. I thought that was a good thing.''
Spreading the wealth this time wasn't by design, which probably makes it even more impressive.
"I think it just happened in the flow,'' coach Maurice Cheeks said. "We talked about getting Andre and Kyle and everybody more touches in the flow... we were more conscious of trying to get to the rim, to force play on screen-and-rolls, which opened up a lot of foul-line jumpers.''
It's a fact of NBA travel that teams playing the final game of a trip sometimes are more focused on heading home, but the Sixers deserved a solid share of credit as Clippers point guard Sam Cassell shot 1-for-10 and shooting guard Cuttino Mobley was able to muster just three second-half points, finishing with 23.
Cassell said, "I just put, offensively, too much pressure on my guys. I can't go 1-for-10 and expect us to win; 1-for-10 is inexcusable.''
"This is how we have to play,'' said Salmons, continuing to fulfill his preseason promise to be more aggressive. "We've got to take a page out of the Pistons' playbook; every time we play them, their stat sheet always shows five guys in double figures, or somebody off the bench in double figures.
"That's the best way to play. When everybody touches the ball, they'll want to play defense, they'll want to go rebound. We don't want to force anything, but when people are being unselfish that makes it even better.''
Case in point: Even though Iverson scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, he said, "I can't remember in the fourth quarter where I didn't have the ball as much going down the stretch. John had the ball in his hands, and was making things happen. All I was waiting for was the opportunity for my man to leave [me] so that I could help somebody make an easy play. You can tell we're getting better as an all-around team because so many people are doing so many things.''
Spread it around