Topped by the Sixers
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New York vs Philadelphia
112 - 117
Record: 19-52
Nate Robinson scored a season-high 34 points (AP Photo)
Nate Robinson scored a season-high 34 points (AP Photo)
NEW YORK (AP) - Allen Iverson told Chris Webber that the Philadelphia 76ers were playing a must-win game Friday night.

The way the duo played, there was no way the 76ers could lose.

Iverson scored 47 points, Webber had a season-high 34 points and 12 rebounds, and Philadelphia snapped a three-game losing streak by beating the New York Knicks 117-112.

The teams meet again Sunday in Philadelphia, and Iverson thought the struggling Sixers needed to sweep the home-and-home set if they are serious about holding onto the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"I was talking to Chris Webber and I told him that these two were probably the two most important games of our season," Iverson said. "We definitely got to play these like playoff games because they're a struggling team and we'd like to think that we're a better team than them.

"We have to be able to get it done. We get these two games it makes it that much more easier on us."

Andre Iguodala added 14 points and Samuel Dalembert had 11 in his return to the starting lineup for the 76ers, who won for just the third time in 13 games. They remained 1 1/2 games ahead of ninth-place Chicago, which beat Charlotte 113-107.

Iverson scored 30 points in the second half and added nine assists as the Sixers erased a 12-point deficit and sent the Knicks to their seventh straight loss.

Rookie Nate Robinson , playing 43 minutes because of injuries to both of New York's starting guards, scored a season-high 34 points. Eddy Curry added 21 points and Jamal Crawford scored 18.

The Knicks played without Steve Francis and were without Stephon Marbury for the final three quarters. Marbury strained his left patella tendon in the first period, and Francis, the other starting guard, was out with a sprained toe on his right foot.

Marbury will have an MRI exam Saturday.

"I'm proud of my team tonight," Knicks coach Larry Brown. "Two great players had spectacular nights and we competed at a high level with a very limited group. I was proud of that."

Philadelphia trailed by double digits early in the second half, but Iverson scored 14 points in the third quarter, including a 3-pointer that gave the Sixers the lead for good at 77-75 with 2:23 left in the period.

The Sixers led 83-80 going into the fourth, then quickly pushed the lead to 10 when Webber had a three-point play, Kyle Korver scored on a follow dunk and Iverson made two free throws.

Robinson kept the Knicks close - and frustrated the Sixers - by repeatedly getting to the line in the final period, but the duo of Iverson and Webber was too much for the Knicks.

Robinson was 14-of-15 at the line.

"I never seen a rookie get that many calls going to the basket," Iverson said. "He kind of reminded myself of me when I was a rookie, just going in there and being able to get calls and all the veterans saying they never seen a rookie get calls like that."

Philadelphia shot 72 percent (13-for-18) in the first quarter, but trailed 33-31 after Crawford's basket at the buzzer. Robinson - rising to the challenge of playing Iverson - scored the final seven points in a 12-0 spurt that gave the Knicks a 56-44 lead with 2:38 remaining in the half.

"He was my favorite player since I was a little boy," Robinson said. "I play against him and it's like I want to play so good. I want to challenge him."

New York led 60-53 at halftime after shooting 59 percent.

"I thought the second half was the reason why we won the game, because it was just the will that helped us win the game," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "We were down, we were a step slow in the first half, and I thought our will got us back in the game."

Dalembert made his first start since Feb. 22. Steven Hunter had started the last 17 games. ... Iverson ended his season-high streak of no 30-point games at five. The last time he had a longer stretch was when he went 12 consecutive games from Nov. 9 to Dec. 4, 2004. ... Besides Francis and Marbury, the Knicks remain without guard Quentin Richardson , who has a sprained left thumb. ... One night after Michigan lost at Madison Square Garden in the NIT championship game, four former Wolverines were on the floor at one point - Webber for the Sixers and Jalen Rose , Maurice Taylor and Crawford for the Knicks.

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