Van Exel sinks team-record eight 3s

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Nick Van Exel might want to reconsider his retirement plans.

Van Exel showed no signs of slowing down on Monday night, hitting a team-record eight 3-pointers and scoring a season-high 28 points to help the Portland Trail Blazers snap a four-game losing streak with a 109-100 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.

"I felt pretty good. I finally made some shots and helped the team out tonight," Van Exel said.

Van Exel has started the last 12 games at point guard for struggling Portland. Coach Maurice Cheeks shuffled the lineup again against the Sixers, benching Theo Ratliff and Derek Anderson and starting Damon Stoudamire and Joel Przybilla.

It paid off, at least for a game.

Stoudamire sank five 3-pointers and scored 22 points, Zach Randolph had 18 points and Ruben Patterson 13 for the Trail Blazers, who won for only the second time in their last eight games.

Portland made a season-high 14 3-pointers on 26 attempts.
Sebastian Telfair sank the other.

Van Exel blew the game open in the third quarter, scoring 15 points on five 3-pointers to help the Trail Blazers build a 26-point lead. He scored at least 20 points for only the third time this season.

"I've been feeling good pretty much the whole season," Van Exel said. "Tonight's just one of those nights the shots were going for me. My knee's been feeling good. I've just got to make buckets."

The high-scoring games don't come as often for Van Exel, the 33-year-old guard who said last month he planned to retire after this season. Van Exel said after his 10-for-19 effort he was keeping a small door open in case a contender called but just planned to play a lot of golf.

Van Exel would like to get into coaching, maybe at his alma mater, Cincinnati.

Allen Iverson shook off a sprained right ankle to score 21 points with nine assists and nine rebounds for Philadelphia. Iverson crashed hard while driving to the basket early in the fourth and came up rubbing his left thigh. He left and watched the rest of the game from the bench.

"I wasn't hurt. I was fine," Iverson said. "I was ready to go back in, but I'm not the coach. I'm a soldier."

Andre Iguodala led the Sixers with 22 points and Kenny Thomas had 16.

Philadelphia played its first home game since Dec. 20 following a 5-3 record on its longest road trip of the season. The Sixers' three losses were by a combined 16 points -- the Trail Blazers led by that much early in the third.

Maybe another road game will help -- the Sixers play Wednesday at Chicago.

"When you get home, you think you'll get calls and you think your fans will win the game for you," Iverson said. "You think you don't have to work as hard as you did on the road. Guys tend to think everything will be a cakewalk. That wasn't the case."

Portland scored the final seven points of the second quarter to take an 11-point lead into halftime before taking charge in the third. Van Exel hit all five 3s during a 24-8 run and Portland made 60 percent of its 3s in the quarter. Stoudamire scored eight points in the quarter.

"Putting Nick and Damon in the game, I think those two guys fed off each other," said Cheeks, a former All-Star guard with the Sixers. "They played off each other and gave us the lift that we needed."

During Portland's run, Philadelphia had turnovers on four straight possessions, prompting loud boos from a crowd that made an early exit.

Game notes
Philadelphia played without center Brian Skinner (flu). ... The 76ers collected donations from fans for tsunami relief. Front office personnel and players also made donations. ... Eagles running back Brian Westbrook received a standing ovation when introduced to the crowd. ... Iverson has a steal in 51 straight games.


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