PHILADELPHIA — It was Allen Iverson’s night, but Trevor Ariza made part of it his own.
The Philadelphia 76ers retired the No. 3 once worn by Iverson at halftime of Saturday night’s game against the Washington Wizards, but Ariza, a journeyman forward, scored a career-high 40 points — 24 in the first quarter — to pace Washington to a 122-103 victory.
Ariza, who hit his first eight 3-point attempts, finished 8 of 12 from the arc and 14 of 23 from the floor.
Guard John Wall added 17 and 16 assists for the Wizards (31-28), who won their sixth straight. His assist total matched a career high.
Guard-forward Martell Webster also scored 17 for Washington, while forward Trevor Booker had 14 and center Marcin Gortat accumulated 13 points and 14 rebounds.
Guardy Tony Wroten had 19 points and forward Thaddeus Young 17 to lead Philadelphia (15-44), which dropped its 13th straight, and its 12th straight at home. The home slide matches a franchise record dating back to 1996-97, Iverson’s rookie year. The overall skid is also the 76ers’ longest since that season.
Ariza made all six of his 3-point attempts, and nine of his 10 shot all told, en route to his 24-point first quarter. It was a floor record for points by an opponent in any quarter, and helped stake the Wizards to a 39-24 lead late in the period.
The 76ers mounted a brief challenge early in the second quarter, but by halftime Washington was up 74-62. The Wizards’ total was an arena record for points in any half.
Ariza finished the half with 29, and Wall had 12 points and 10 assists. Eight of his assists came in the first quarter, a floor record for an opponent in that period.
Guard Michael Carter-Williams countered with all 15 of his points in the first half for the 76ers, while Young had 11.
The 76eers never drew closer than eight in the second half.
Iverson was saluted at halftime by a raucous sellout crowd, in a ceremony included 76ers greats like Moses Malone and Julius Erving, as well as some of Iverson’s former teammates, like Theo Ratliff and Aaron McKie.
“Show me the fool that said dreams don’t come true, because they do,” Iverson said in his remarks to the fans. “I love you, Philadelphia.”
The 38-year-old Iverson last played in 2009-10, and earlier this season formally announced his retirement. He scored 24,368 points during his 14 seasons, an average of 26.7 a game.
Adam Silver, the new NBA commissioner, told the crowd that Iverson “defined the city of Philadelphia more than any other athlete.”
Before the game Washington coach Randy Wittman said Iverson was “probably one of the toughest small guys we’ve seen in a long time — very tough, loved to play the game, hated coming out of the game, never stopped coming after you.”
Sixers coach Brett Brown called Iverson “a larger-than-life personality” and “beyond a fierce competitor.”
“He lived hard, played hard, wore his heart on his sleeve,” Brown said. “I have the utmost respect for him, and just appreciate what his name is and what he’s done for this program.”
NOTES: NBA commissioner Adam Silver, asked before the game about the perception that teams like the 76ers are tanking to improve their draft status, said it is “an insult to the entire league to think that these guys are going out on the floor and not doing their very best to win games. What this organization is doing is absolutely the right thing. What they’re doing is planning for the future and building an organization from the ground level up. If you look at what’s happened here over the last several years, it’s badly needed.” … The Wizards beat Toronto in triple overtime in their previous game Thursday, but as coach Randy Wittman said prior to tip, it is “part of our business” to get prepared for the next outing. “That game’s over with,” he said, “and we’ve got to be ready to step up tonight.” … The 76ers signed F Jarvis Varnado to a 10-day contract. Varnado was averaging 14.7 points, 11 rebounds and 4.7 blocks for the Iowa Energy of the Development League. … Wizards F Kevin Seraphin missed his third straight game with a sore right knee.
Rockets spoil Griffin’s return in testy affair
If James Harden needed any extra motivation against the Los Angeles Clippers, he found it in the first half.
Harden scored 34 points, and the Rockets held on for a 100-98 victory over the Clippers in a sometimes testy affair on Sunday at Staples Center.
Point guard Chris Paul, who finished with 23 points, missed a contested shot at the buzzer that would have forced overtime.
“It was very important for us just to go out there and play well,” said Harden, who hit seven of 16 shots from the floor, three of five from 3-point range and 17 of 18 free throws. “The last two games we kind of struggled a little bit, but we got our pop back a little bit today, and it was a good win for us.”
Harden provided much of that pop, particularly in the second quarter after Clippers forward Matt Barnes was whistled for a flagrant-1 foul after pushing Harden to the court at 6:02. Harden scored 15 of his 18 points in the period after that, leading the Rockets to a 58-50 halftime lead.
Did the flagrant foul add more fuel for the Rockets’ All-Star guard and MVP candidate?
“Yeah. Things like that are fun,” said Harden, who had 24 points in the first half. “We have fun, we got boosted off of that.”
The win ended a two-game skid for the Rockets (44-22). Houston forward Trevor Ariza scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while forward Terrence Jones added 16 points and 12 boards.
“This was a win that we needed, especially on the road,” Ariza said. “Going into the home stretch, these are the types of games we have to win.”
Los Angeles forward Blake Griffin returned after missing 15 games due to surgery on his right elbow. Griffin had 11 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, but committed five turnovers in 41 minutes.
“I didn’t think I played well,” said Griffin, who managed 4-of-10 shooting. “I was out of rhythm. Way too many turnovers, obviously.”
Barnes scored 19 points and guard J.J. Redick had 15 for the Clippers (42-24), who fell into a tie for the No. 5 spot in the Western Conference standings with the Dallas Mavericks.
Paul lamented a host of turnovers in the defeat, including a critical one involving center DeAndre Jordan.
“I had some bad turnovers,” said Paul, who committed three of the Clippers’ 20 miscues compared to 13 for the Rockets. “On one, I drove it off DeAndre’s foot, the other one I lost towards the end of the half. We have to take better care of the ball. We still had an opportunity to win, but we just didn’t do it.”
The Clippers came back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit. Paul scored seven straight points, capping it with a 3-point basket to tie the score at 96 with 3:05 left in the game. Houston got a 3-pointer by Jones, but Barnes countered with a basket to keep Los Angeles within 99-98 with 1:35 left. Los Angeles, though, never scored again.
Griffin got a steal as Ariza attempted a pass to Harden, but Ariza drew a charging foul as Griffin bolted to the bucket with 12 seconds remaining. Griffin remained unhappy about the call after the game.
“If I speak on that, I’ll get fined,” Griffin said.
Harden hit one of two foul shots with 8.9 seconds left, capping the scoring before Paul failed to connect on a jumper in the lane with Ariza defending.
The Rockets outscored Los Angeles 36-20 in the second quarter despite making just 38.5 percent of their shots compared to 44.4 percent for the Clippers. Overall, the Clippers hit 43.9 percent to 37.2 percent for the Rockets. They also held an edge in 3-point shooting, converting 12 of 26 attempts to seven of 30 for Houston. The Rockets, though were 29 of 36 from the foul line to 14 of 24 for Los Angeles.
Jordan finished with 20 rebounds and four blocks.
NOTES: F Blake Griffin’s return benefits PG Chris Paul as much as any Clipper. “Teams have been able to trap (Paul) far more than they can when Blake is on the floor because of (Griffin’s) ability to pass,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “I’m sure CP is the happiest of all to have him back.” … Rivers isn’t sure if injured G Jamal Crawford would return before the playoffs. Crawford has missed six games with a right calf contusion. … Rockets C Dwight Howard sat out his 18th game with a right knee edema. “He’s doing everything he can, he’s trying to get better, but until you’re on the floor, it’s impossible to say,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said regarding Howard’s return. … Both clubs resume play Tuesday. Houston hosts the Orlando Magic, while Los Angeles plays the Charlotte Hornets at Staples Center.
Spurs’ Ginobili sprains ankle
SAN ANTONIO — Guard Manu Ginobili was helped off the floor late in the third quarter of the San Antonio Spurs’ game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday due to a sprained right ankle.
Ginobili went down with 43 seconds left in the quarter and with the Spurs leading the Timberwolves by 30 points. He was immediately was led to the locker room, and he did not put any weight on his right leg as he was carried off the court. He did not return to the game.
In 19 minutes during the Spurs’ 123-97 win over the Timberwolves, Ginobili scored 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting. He battled a stomach illness last week, forcing him to miss a game against the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday and leading him to play limited minutes against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday.
NBA notebook: Clippers’ Griffin cleared to return
Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin, out the last 15 games with an elbow injury, was cleared to return Sunday against the Houston Rockets.
Griffin had surgery five weeks ago to remove a staph infection in his right elbow.
“He said, ‘I’m ready,'” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said before Sunday’s game. “Yesterday the trainers called me and said, ‘If he can go, he can go. He’s been cleared.'”
Rivers said timing likely will be an adjustment for Griffin.
“Timing is timing,” Rivers said. “You lose it when you don’t play in an NBA game. Sometimes you come back and you play great the first game and then you lose your timing. Sometimes it doesn’t. As far as the way we play, it won’t be hard for him at all.”
In 51 games this season, Griffin is averaging 22.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists.
–Spurs guard Manu Ginobili had to be helped off the floor late in the third quarter against Minnesota on Sunday. Ginobili went down with 43 seconds left in the quarter and with the Spurs leading the Timberwolves by 30 points.
He was helped off the floor and immediately was led to the locker room. He did not put any weight on his right leg as he was carried off the court.
Up to that point, Ginobili had scored 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting in 19 minutes. He battled a stomach illness last week, forcing him to miss a game against Toronto and play limited minutes against Cleveland on March 12.
–Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr sent emails to three fans who were disappointed that he rested several prominent players, including All-Star guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, in Friday’s loss to the Nuggets in Denver.
“There’s two really good sides to the story,” Kerr said, according to the Associated Press report. “Nobody’s wrong here. … I can’t argue with them.”
Kerr received an email from a family that drove from South Dakota to Denver to see Curry, Thompson and the entertaining Warriors play. But Curry, Thompson, center Andrew Bogut and reserve guard Andre Iguodala did not play so they could be rested, and the Warriors lost 114-103.
“I heard from some fans. I received a few emails, stories about driving in from a long distance off and spending a lot of money on tickets,” Kerr said. “I have great sympathy for those people. I really do. It’s a tricky one. It’s something that I think Adam Silver is trying to address through the scheduling shuffling that he’s talking about.
–The Dallas Mavericks recalled center/forward Dwight Powell from the Texas Legends of the NBA Development League on Sunday.
The 6-foot-11, 240-pound Powell played in one game during his most recent assignment to the D-League and finished with 28 points, five rebounds and two assists to lead the Legends in a 115-89 win over the Austin Spurs on Saturday night.
Powell has appeared in 19 games for the Mavericks this season, averaging 3.5 points and 2.2 rebounds in 10.0 minutes per game.
–The Atlanta Hawks signed forward Austin Daye to a 10-day contract Sunday.
Daye appeared in 26 games (four starts) earlier this season with the San Antonio Spurs, averaging 4.0 points and 2.3 rebounds in 10.3 minutes.
In 10 games this season with the Erie BayHawks of the NBA Development League, Daye has averaged 16.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.1 blocks in 28.5 minutes.
–The Miami Heat recalled guard Zoran Dragic from the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the NBA Development League on Sunday.
Zoran appeared in four games (one start) and averaged 16.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.50 steals, helping the Skyforce to a 3-1 record over that span.