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Wade shines, but Heat falls without Odom

10/28/2003

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Allen Iverson always feels as if he's going
to make all of his shots. When they aren't falling, the three-time
NBA scoring champion uses that as motivation to finish strong.

"When I struggle for three quarters, all I think about is that
last 12 minutes," Iverson said.

Iverson scored 13 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter and had
11 assists as the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Miami Heat 89-74
Tuesday night in the season opener for both teams.

"I just felt like it was my time to step up my game, said
Iverson, who went 3-for-4 from 3-point range in the fourth. "My
teammates had been holding the fort down the previous three
quarters."

It was the first game for new Sixers coach Randy Ayers, Larry
Brown's top assistant for six seasons, and for Heat coach Stan Van
Gundy, who was promoted last week after Pat Riley stepped down.

Philadelphia broke the game open with a 12-0 run to start the
fourth quarter after the Heat closed within three at the end of the
third.

Iverson, who shot just 4-for-17 through three quarters and
missed all seven 3-point attempts, ignited the run with a nice pass
to Willie Green for an alley-oop. Iverson then hit a 3-pointer from
the left wing and added a driving one-handed layup from the right
side.

Green added another basket before Aaron McKie drilled a
3-pointer -- a rarity in the Brown era -- sending the Sixers' crowd
into its first frenzy of the season and stretching the lead to
77-62.

Rafer Alston ended the run with a 3-pointer, but Iverson
countered with another 3-pointer for an 80-65 lead. The Sixers led
by as many as 17 in the last quarter.

Iverson went 9-for-25 from the floor, but was 5-for-8 in the
fourth for his 50th career double-double. It was the kind of result
he wanted in Ayers' first game. The two get along well, unlike
Iverson's contentious relationship with Brown.

"It's not too different at all, except for the yelling and
cursing," Iverson said, taking a good-natured swipe at Brown.

Dwyane Wade scored 18 points in his first NBA game. Eddie Jones
scored 15 points and Brian Grant added 13 for the Heat, who played
all but the first eight minutes without forward Lamar Odom. Odom
sprained his right ankle. X-rays were negative.

Odom was the centerpiece of Miami's offseason overhaul, signing
a $65 million, six-year contract. Odom said he might miss up to two
games.

Kenny Thomas scored 15 points for the Sixers, who had eight
turnovers to Miami's 19.

Philadelphia led by 12 in the second quarter before Wade keyed a
brief rally. Wade, the No. 5 overall pick in the draft, showed he
might be able to play a role in revitalizing the franchise. He was
6-for-10 from the field for 14 points in the first half, but did
have five turnovers.

As the clock ticked down in the final minute, Wade faked a pass
to the left wing, which got Thomas off balance. That allowed Wade
to spin back and sink a turnaround jumper from about 16 feet,
making it 44-39 at the half.

Wade sustained a hip pointer when he took a charge from Eric Snow in the first half. Jones sustained cuts on two fingers on his
right hand. Both are listed as day-to-day.

The Heat cut it to 48-46 midway through the third quarter, but
never took the lead. The Sixers got their lead back to 11, but a
three-point play by John Wallace and a running jumper by Wade made
it 65-62 after three quarters.

Miami's comeback was helped by the Sixers' struggles from the
line. The 76ers shot just 4-for-12 from the line in the third,
including Thomas' 1-for-6.

The rally fell short and Van Gundy's debut was spoiled.

"It doesn't feel good losing by 15," he said.

Notes: Ayers said a conversation with Brown over the weekend and a
post-practice chat on Monday with GM Billy King and vice president
Tony Dileo helped calm his nerves. He's the first Sixers coach to
win his debut since Fred Carter in 1993. "I'm glad that's over so
now we can settle in and build this team," Ayers said. ... Sixers
forward Glenn Robinson will miss the first three games of the
season. He was suspended by the NBA following a conviction for
domestic assault and battery. ... McKie, John Salmons and Derrick Coleman all scored 10 points for the Sixers.