Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sixers stay alive by edging Heat

Philadelphia - A resurrection on Easter Sunday?

That might be a little much but Lou Williams' go-ahead three-pointer with 8.9 seconds remaining helped the Philadelphia 76ers stave off elimination and extend their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the heavily-favored Miami Heat with a dramatic 86-82 Game 4 victory at Wells Fargo Center.

"D-Wade [Dwyane Wade] gave me a little room and I was able to knock it down," Williams said of his huge three. "We have always been a team that fought. I just wanted to give us an opportunity to win the basketball game."

"I got a great contest on that shot," Wade said. "He hit a good shot. He is one of the more talented players on the team. He's a big shot maker."

Williams scored 11 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter, and rookie Evan Turner capped a 17-point performance by finishing a game-ending 10-0 run with two free throws that sealed the game in the waning seconds.

"This is what I dreamed of when I came back [to Philadelphia]," Sixers coach Doug Collins said. "The stands filled saying 'Lets go Sixers', playoffs [painted on the floor] and my family behind me."

Turner also had five rebounds and six assists for the Sixers, who topped the Heat for the first time in seven tries this season dating back to the regular season

"I was just trying to come out, compete and bring some spark off the bench," Turner said.

Andre Iguodala added 16 points, five points and four rebounds despite spending most of the second half in foul trouble, while Elton Brand chipped in 15 points and a game-high 11 rebounds along with a huge block that turned away LeBron James on Miami's final possession.

"That was the game saving play," Collins said of Brand's block. "That was the rim protection we always talk about."

"I though I put enough loft on the ball to get it over his outstretched hand but he made a great play," James said.

James finished with 31 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Heat while Wade netted 22 points, eight rebounds and four assists.

"Bottom line, it's never easy in the playoffs," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "It never is. You think normally in the position to close out a game, up six [with] 1:35 to go, we can rely on our defense and we weren't able to do it the way we normally do; to get the stops and grind out and execute in the end."

Chris Bosh was the only other Miami player in double figures with 12 points.

"We got stagnant, stopped moving the ball and took contested shots," Bosh said of his team's struggles in the final moments. "Sometimes you get a little tight and its tougher to execute down the stretch."

The Heat still have a comfortable 3-1 edge in the series with Game 5 set for South Beach on Wednesday.

"The only thing it [the loss] means is we are going to play a Game 5," Bosh said.


*The Sixers had lost 10 straight overall to the Heat.

*The Heat had just 21 free throw attempts after averaging 32.7 per game in the first three contests. Thank Joey Crawford and Dick Bavetta for that and pray for Steve Javie's crew in Game 5.

*Williams has scored 10-or-more points in the fourth quarter 10 times this season.

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