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76ers Deliver on First Guarantee

April 28, 1999| From Associated Press

The Philadelphia 76ers achieved one of Allen Iverson's goals, guaranteeing themselves a winning season. Next up, a trip to the playoffs.

Yes, Philadelphia. The playoffs. Remember those?

Iverson scored 31 points as Philadelphia clinched its second winning season this decade with an 80-71 victory over the injury-plagued Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night.

The 76ers, a little flat after Sunday's nationally televised blowout victory over Orlando, nonetheless won their fifth straight and took a 1 1/2-game lead over idle Milwaukee for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.

With their 26th victory in the 50-game schedule, the 76ers have their first winning season since 1990-91, the last time they made the playoffs. The 76ers' magic number to clinch a playoff berth is two.

"I don't want to start thinking about that now," said Iverson, whose teams were 53-111 in his first two seasons. "That would be crazy. I would be lying to say that I'm not thinking about it. But I'm not concentrating on that because I know we've still got to win games."

Sacramento 104, San Antonio 100--Vlade Divac had 27 points and 15 rebounds and Jason Williams scored seven points in overtime as the Kings defeated the Spurs at Sacramento.

The victory moved Sacramento past idle Minnesota and into the seventh playoff spot in the Western Conference and snapped San Antonio's seven-game winning streak.

Vernon Maxwell scored 15 points and Williams had 14 points and seven assists for the Kings, who won for the sixth time in seven games, despite playing without Chris Webber, out because of a sprained back.

Seattle 90, Utah 85--Gary Payton scored 30 points and the SuperSonics moved into a tie with idle Minnesota for the eighth--and final--playoff spot in the Western Conference with a victory over the Jazz at Seattle.

The Timberwolves own the tiebreaker with Seattle because they won two out of three from the SuperSonics this season.

Detlef Schrempf made four crucial free throws for the SuperSonics over the final 15 seconds.

Dallas 84, Vancouver 75--Rookie Dirk Nowitzki capped a 10-2 fourth-quarter run with two baskets and the Mavericks continued their homecourt success with a victory over the Grizzlies.

Gary Trent had 20 points and Michael Finley added 14 for the Mavericks, winners of six of their last eight at Reunion Arena.

Orlando 88, Indiana 87--Darrell Armstrong's open 17-footer with 1.6 seconds to play gave the Magic a victory at Indianapolis as the Magic ended their longest losing streak of the season at five games.

Indiana had one last shot at victory and got the ball to Travis Best after two consecutive timeouts, but his open shot from the corner bounced off the rim.

Miami 95, New Jersey 76--Playing without injured center Alonzo Mourning, the Heat made 15 of 20 shots in the first quarter and defeated the injury-riddled Nets at East Rutherford, N.J.

Mourning, only one of three players in the NBA averaging more than 20 points and 11 rebounds, missed his first game of the season after being hit in the right eye in Cleveland on Monday night.

Coach Pat Riley, who moved into sole possession of second place on the career victory list with his 945th win, does not believe the injury is serious, but Mourning returned to Miami on Tuesday after being examined by a specialist in Cleveland.

Charlotte 108, Toronto 98--Eddie Jones scored 28 points and Bobby Phills had 20 as the Hornets dealt a significant blow to the Raptors' playoff hopes with a victory at Toronto.

The Hornets, who had six players score in double figures, moved within one game of the New York Knicks for the eighth and last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They also won the season series from the Raptors, the first head-to-head tiebreaker.

Detroit 92, Boston 85--Grant Hill scored 32 points and Jerome Williams had 21 points and 13 rebounds as the Pistons defeated the Celtics at Boston.

Hill scored 10 points in the fourth quarter as the Pistons wiped out a 10-point deficit on the way to their second straight win. Detroit clings to the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

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