Sixers beat the Pistons

April 9, 2008 7:59:49 PM PDT
Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks got his wish. Shortly before the 76ers' 101-94 victory over Detroit on Wednesday, Cheeks was asked about facing a team that has been resting its starters.

Cheeks laughed and said: "I hope they do."

Having locked up the No. 2 seed in the East, the Pistons once again gave their reserves significant minutes. On the other hand, the game was a meaningful one for the Sixers, who remained in the sixth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, a game ahead of Toronto and a game behind Washington, who both won Wednesday night.

The Sixers snapped a five-game home losing streak to Detroit and split the season series. Winners of 22 of their last 30, the emerging Sixers need to split their final four games to ensure their first winning season since 2004-05, when they were 43-39.

"Before, we'd come into a game like that and hope to stay in the game," said Cheeks, who missed most of the fourth quarter because of flu-like symptoms. "When you win games like that against good teams, your confidence is that you can win games like that. I think that it has to stay."

Andre Iguodala scored 25 points, hitting a season-high four 3-pointers, and Samuel Dalembert added 20 points and 13 rebounds for Philadelphia. Willie Green scored 15 and Lou Williams had 12 points and 7 assists off the bench.

"It was an important win for us, especially trying to better ourselves as far as seeds are concerned in the Eastern Conference," Green said. "We understand that the Pistons were resting some of their players also, but even with that said, it was still a good win for us."

The Sixers, 22-17 at the Wachovia Center, avoided their third straight home loss. After clinching a playoff berth Friday in Atlanta, they returned home flat and fell to the Hawks by seven the following night.

"It's always good to bounce back from a loss," Iguodala said. "We were a little emotional coming into the Atlanta game after finding out we made it to the playoffs. I still felt like we should have won that game, but it's still good to get the win tonight."

Iguodala was 7-for-14 from the floor and had six assists, five rebounds and five steals.

"The way he played tonight is the way he has been playing pretty much all season," Cheeks said. "He scores. He defends. He rebounds. He passes the ball."

As does Andre Miller, who managed just six points on 3-for-8 shooting but had nine assists. The Sixers improved to 25-12 when Miller has at least seven assists.

"Where would we be without those two guys, the two Andres?" Cheeks said.

Chauncey Billups had 18 points to lead Detroit, which already has locked up the No. 2 seed in the East and again gave its reserves significant playing time. Tayshaun Prince, Antonio McDyess and Rasheed Wallace all played fewer than 30 minutes and scored in single digits. Richard Hamilton (hip) missed his fifth straight game.

"We want to get out there and get a little rhythm then get out of the way," Billups said. "You try to walk (the young guys) through it, but the best lesson is to do it on your own."

In a game that featured sporadic defense, the Sixers made eight straight field goals in one second-quarter stretch, shot 65.7 in the first 24 minutes and led 58-52 at halftime.

The Sixers finished with a 29-7 advantage on the break.

"They're one of the best teams in the league at that," Billups said. "They've got shot-blocks, and they're very athletic. If you're not stopping their fast breaks, you're in trouble."

Notes: The Sixers improved to 25-7 when scoring at least 100 points. Detroit is 10-11 when allowing at least 100. ... The Sixers made 22 free throws, two more than the Pistons attempted. ... Iguodala's previous season high for 3-pointers was three (twice).