Allen Iverson was tired from playing 52 minutes and hurting from at least three injuries.
He was also the driving force behind the Philadelphia 76ers, who moved to the top of the NBA with an impressive victory in Sacramento.
Iverson scored 46 points with a spectacular array of shots, and Aaron McKie punctuated his triple-double by hitting a three-point shot to break a tie with 39 seconds left in overtime as the 76ers earned the NBA’s best record with a 107-104 victory over the Kings on Saturday.
“That plane ride home won’t be that bad now,” Iverson said with a grin. “My ears will be ringing for a while from the crowd [at Arco Arena], but a win like this in a place like this is as good as it gets if you’re a basketball player.”
The game matched the teams with the NBA’s best records entering January, but the 76ers (21-8) jumped ahead with a blistering first quarter and never trailed the Kings (20-8) despite several nip-and-tuck minutes in regulation and a tense overtime.
“It was just an unbelievable win, because [the Kings] are a great team,” 76er Coach Larry Brown said. “This is a phenomenally tough place to play, but we managed to gut it out. . . . Allen was spectacular, and Aaron was great.”
Iverson, who also had nine rebounds and nine assists, drove the lane and passed to McKie in the corner for the go-ahead shot. Sacramento couldn’t score on its last two possessions, and Jon Barry’s long three-pointer with a second left was short.
With Iverson’s artistry and a dominant rebounding performance, the 76ers won their NBA-best 14th road game and seventh in a row, and ended Sacramento’s nine-game home winning streak. McKie had 19 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds in Philadelphia’s first win at Arco Arena in 11 years.
“Aaron was the unsung guy tonight,” Brown said. “Allen got us there, but Aaron put us over the top.”
Iverson missed a game last week with a dislocated right shoulder and also is nursing a left hip pointer and a sore right elbow. But the 1999 NBA scoring champion used the nationally televised meeting of the NBA’s conference leaders to show he’s healthy and ready to make the 76ers better than they’ve ever been in his career.
Predrag Stojakovic scored a career-high 33 points for the Kings, and he hit four straight free throws in overtime which tied it at 104-104 with 54 seconds left.
San Antonio 89, Indiana 77--Reserve Malik Rose had 20 points and 13 rebounds, while the Spurs shut down the Pacers’ top scorers in a victory at Indianapolis.
Rose was eight of 13 from the field and made eight of 10 free throws for San Antonio, which ended a two-game road losing streak.
San Antonio’s defense smothered Jalen Rose and Reggie Miller, limiting them to a combined 29 points. Rose, averaging 24 points, was nine of 21 and finished with 20 points.
After hitting 29 consecutive free throws entering the game, Rose missed four in a row and finished two of six from the line. Many of his points came with the game out of reach in the closing minutes.
Miller was just three of 14 from the field and had nine points.
New York 88, Minnesota 79--Allan Houston scored 27 points in his return to the lineup and the Knicks responded with a victory at Minneapolis.
Houston scored eight points down the stretch in the fourth quarter, including a critical jumper with 50 seconds remaining. Houston had played in 258 consecutive games before being sidelined by a stomach virus Friday night at Chicago.
Latrell Sprewell also scored 27 for the Knicks, and Kurt Thomas added 12 points and 14 rebounds.
Houston 114, Dallas 99--Steve Francis had 22 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists as the Rockets ended a season-long six-game losing streak with a victory at Dallas.
Cuttino Mobley had 24 points, Shandon Anderson scored 15 and Kenny Thomas added 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Rockets, who beat the Mavericks for the 16th time in their last 18 meetings.
Houston opened the third quarter with a 16-7 run to take a 69-38 lead, its biggest of the game. Michael Finley scored 32 points and Steve Nash added a career-high 26 for the Mavericks.
Phoenix 109, Toronto 103--Vince Carter scored 46 points, 20 in the fourth quarter, but was burned on defense by undrafted rookie Paul McPherson in the second period as the Suns beat the Raptors at Phoenix.
McPherson scored 20 points on nine-for-10 shooting in 16 minutes as the Suns rallied from a 17-point first-half deficit, then held off a late Raptors’ rally. McPherson had 15 of his points in the second quarter, repeatedly beating Carter.
Jason Kidd had 27 points for the Suns, who were coming off a 37-point homecourt loss to the Lakers on Thursday--their worst loss ever at America West Arena.
Carter was 22 of 27 at the foul line in a game that featured 79 free throws.
Seattle 104, Charlotte 102--Vin Baker hit a buzzer-beating jumper to lead the SuperSonics to a dramatic win over the Hornets at Seattle.
Baker scored eight of his 15 points in the final 3:22, capping it with a 19-footer that bounced off the rim and twice off the backboard before falling through the net as the buzzer sounded.
Miami 110, Detroit 102--Tim Hardaway had 19 points and 11 assists and Eddie Jones scored 23 points to lead the Heat to an overtime victory over the Pistons at Auburn Hills, Mich.
Anthony Mason added 20 points--18 after halftime--and 10 rebounds, while Brian Grant had 16 points and 14 rebounds for Miami. The Heat blew a 13-point second-half lead but rallied to win its fifth in a row.
Orlando 95, Boston 90--Pat Garrity hit a tiebreaking three-pointer with 50 seconds left and John Amaechi scored 23 points to lead the Magic at Boston.
Garrity’s shot broke a 90-90 tie as the Magic ended a five-game losing streak in Boston. Michael Doleac hit two free throws to clinch the victory. Tracy McGrady added 11 points and seven assists for Orlando.
Denver 120, Milwaukee 113--Antonio McDyess had 35 points and 14 rebounds as the Nuggets survived a second-half rally by the Bucks at Denver.
Raef LaFrentz added 26 points, and all five Denver starters finished in double figures to help the Nuggets end Milwaukee’s four-game winning streak.
Glenn Robinson led Milwaukee with 31 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter.
Golden State 102, Vancouver 101--Mookie Blaylock made a layup with 4.5 seconds remaining, and Antawn Jamison scored 35 points to lead the Warriors to their second win in as many nights, this one at Vancouver, Canada.