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Wagner scores 29, but Cavs drop 13th straight

11/30/2002

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Just when the Philadelphia 76ers were about to
give away an easy win, Allen Iverson stole it right back.

Iverson made two steals and scored four points in a 23-second span late in the fourth quarter as the Sixers withstood Cleveland's furious comeback for a 106-99 win Friday night over the Cavaliers, who have lost 13 straight.

Iverson finished with 29 points, but had to rescue the Sixers down the stretch when the Cavs chopped an 18-point deficit in the fourth down to two with 2:02 remaining.

"Everything was clicking at one point, and then everything started to go wrong,'' Iverson said.

As usual, Iverson fixed Philadelphia's problems and led the Sixers to their sixth straight win.

Iverson had two steals, hit a driving layup over Jumaine Jones and sank two free throws in the final 1:24 as Philadelphia beat Cleveland for the 14th consecutive time.

Keith Van Horn had 22 points and Todd MacCulloch added. Aaron McKie scored 12 for Philadelphia, all in the third quarter when the Sixers appeared to blow it
open.

But behind rookie guard Dajuan Wagner, who like his good friend Iverson had 29 points, the Cavs stormed back.

"That's my little man,'' Iverson said of Wagner. "It goes deeper than basketball with Juanie and myself. I wanted him to play real well tonight, I just didn't want him to get the win.''

Iverson walked to the far end of the floor after the game to
find Wagner and gave the 19-year-old a heartfelt hug.

Cleveland, which hasn't won since Nov. 5, trailed 91-73 with
9:18 left, but used a 12-0 run to creep back and got within six on
a dunk by Zydrunas Ilgauskas with 5:46 left.

The Cavs were out of timeouts but still managed to close to
98-96 on rookie Carlos Boozer's 4-foot hook shot with 2:02 to go.

Ilgauskas then missed two free throws with 1:29 to go that would
have tied it, and that's when Iverson took control.

The NBA's steals leader swiped a pass and hit his running layup
over Jones in the lane to make it 100-96, and after he made another
steal, Iverson was fouled and hit two free throws to put the Sixers
up 102-96 with 1:01 to play.

Wagner's third 3-pointer got the Cavs within three, but Eric Snow hit two free throws and Van Horn followed a steal by Snow with a dunk just before the final horn.

Despite the big lead, Iverson knew it wasn't safe to relax.

"I'm never surprised in this league,'' he said. "You never
know what's going to happen.''

Cleveland's losing streak is the third-longest in franchise
history.

The Cavs lost 19 in a row to end the 1981-82 season, and they
dropped their first 15 games when they joined the NBA as an
expansion team in 1970.

Following the game, Cavs coach John Lucas said guard Ricky Davis will not travel with the team on a trip to Miami and New York because of disciplinary reasons.

Davis, who has been benched by Lucas before, played just eight minutes in the second half. At one point, Davis, who signed a seven-year, $34 million deal this summer, appeared to shout obscenities at Cavs forward Tyrone Hill.

Lucas refused to elaborate on his reasons for leaving Davis behind.

"It's a combination of things,'' Lucas said.

McKie scored 12 points in Philadelphia's 20-3 flurry to open the
second half as the Sixers turned a four-point halftime deficit into
a 13-point lead in just 4:02.

McKie went 5-for-5 and had five steals as the Sixers outscored
the Cavs 37-21 in the third.

However, despite being down by 19 and hearing their fans' cheers
turn to boos in minutes, the Cavs refused to go away and nearly
pulled off an amazing comeback.

Ilgauskas finished with 21 points and Boozer had 15 for Cleveland.

But it was Wagner who electrified the Gund Arena crowd with some
Iverson-like crossover dribbles, drives and long-range jumpers.

"I just went out and played,'' Wagner said. "I've been watching Allen since I was young. I felt good.''

Wagner's father, Milt, a former NBA player, watched his son for
the first time as a pro from a front-row seat near Cleveland's
bench and admitted being more nervous than the 19-year-old.

"This is a dream come true for both of us,'' said the elder Wagner.

Playing some point guard, Wagner made a 3-pointer, a jumper and
two shots off the glass over the final 5:21 of the second quarter
as the Cavs opened a 51-47 halftime lead.

Game notes
Cleveland hasn't beaten Philadelphia since April 2, 1999. ... Lucas said F/C Chris Mihm (strained hamstring) and F Darius Miles (knee tendinitis) might not be ready to practice until
mid-December. ... The Sixers improved to 4-4 on the road. They're 9-0 at home. ... Lucas feels the Sixers are being mistakenly overlooked among the East's top teams. "I don't know why everybody is talking about Indiana and Detroit, the best team I've seen so far is the Philadelphia 76ers,'' he said.