"If I had some players, I'd be better than that," Riley said,
laughing. "Give me some players and we'll win by 20."
While Riley was joking, the rest of the league is quickly
finding the results of this new terrific trio to be no laughing
matter. Since Riley took over the Heat on Monday when Stan Van
Gundy resigned, Miami has won three straight games on the road.
With James Posey and Gerald Fitch making meaningful
contributions off the bench, and Antoine Walker sinking big 3s down
the stretch, the Heat held off a late Sixers' rally to win their
fourth straight game.
O'Neal credits Riley, who won four NBA championships during the
1980s with the Los Angeles Lakers, for bringing an instant winning
attitude to the Heat.
"Guys have responded very well, and I think, because of his
resume, guys will listen and will do what he says," O'Neal said.
"I have a pretty good feeling."
NBA leading scorer Allen Iverson led the Sixers with 35 points,
but left the game briefly in the first half with a sprained thumb.
Iverson appeared to hurt the thumb when he was fouled on a
driving layup at the end of the first quarter. After Iverson was
fouled by Jason Kapono, he grabbed his hand and paced around the
court before finally going to the line. He missed the free throw.
Iverson did leave briefly to have X-rays, which showed no break.
Iverson, averaging 34 points, returned in the second quarter. Kyle
Korver also suffered a sprained right thumb.
Chris Webber scored 23 for the Sixers, who had their four-game
winning streak snapped.
If Iverson's thumb bothered him, he sure didn't show it in the
fourth, when the Sixers came charging back from a 20-point
Like he seemingly always does when the Sixers really need a
rally, Iverson hit a gutsy shot in the paint where he was kneed in
the belly by Wade, then used a sweet fallaway to start a
three-point play that pulled the Sixers to 93-83.
Iverson then poked the ball away from Gary Payton, who yelled
trash talk as he tried to keep up with the speedy former MVP.
Iverson's easy layup made it 93-85.
When Korver drilled a 3-pointer from the left baseline, the
Sixers showed as much life as they did all game. Payton was
whistled for a foul after Iverson cut around him on a drive, sank
two free throws and the lead dwindled to 95-90.
Then Walker hit a 3 from the left side that pushed the lead back
to eight, Wade broke loose for two dunks and Walker hit one more 3
in the final minutes that staved off another Sixers' comeback and
pushed the lead back to double digits.
Walker finished with 16 points, giving the Heat a boost before
ending their four-game road trip Saturday at Cleveland.
"I'm going to get 3s, so I've got to make them," Walker said.
"Everybody knows we're for real and we're coming. It's a good
stretch and hopefully we'll be able to take care of business
Iverson was only 7-for-16 from the free throw line.
"I know mentally it was bothering me, but I don't know how
physically," Iverson said of his sore thumb. "They knock Shaq
about his free throws and I'm the one that should be getting
knocked for free throws."
After O'Neal missed most of the season with a sprained ankle,
the Heat are 4-0 since his return to the lineup.
"Our record's is not what's it supposed to be, but we're not
worried about that right now," O'Neal said. "We've just got to
become one of those top echelon teams."
Posey made all three of his 3-pointers in the first half, Fitch
scored eight points and the Heat found nearly every hole and open
look while shooting 63 percent and racing to a 17-point lead.
"They made a really good run at us, but it's all about holding
them off," Riley said.
Riley downplayed the difference he'll make on the Heat,
saying Van Gundy's success gave him a tough act to follow. "I
think Stan has done an incredible job, the first year he coached,
and the last year with almost 60 wins and the Eastern Conference
finals," he said. "That's going to be hard to beat, but I'll do
the best I can." ... After winning the battle of the boards in
each of their last four wins, the Sixers were outrebounded 49-35.
"If we're going to be big, we have to play big," Riley said.
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