Hapless Sixers Run Out Of Gas Against Pistons Jerry Stackhouse, The Former 76er, Helped Detroit Erase A 21-point Deficit In The Second Half.

Posted: December 23, 1997

Don't bother telling the 76ers to have a merry Christmas.

They had one of their worst losses of the season last night.

The Sixers allowed Jerry Stackhouse, whom they traded just four days ago, to help erase their 21-point second-half lead and then block an attempt by Tim Thomas that would have tied the game with four seconds left in regulation time.

That secured the Detroit Pistons' 96-92 victory at the CoreStates Center. The loss was the Sixers' sixth straight, the 11th in their last 13 games, and their second to the Pistons in three days in this back-to-back series.

In the process, it seemed to create even more apathy among the crowd of 16,798. The fans appear to be losing hope with each dismal performance.

Here's why:

``We gave up 40 points in the fourth quarter,'' Sixers coach Larry Brown said. ``They probably scored on every possession. Our defense was horrible. That's a start.''

The Sixers these days seem unable to finish anything.

Derrick Coleman, in just his third game back from treatment for an irregular heartbeat, had a game high of 23 points on 6-of-14 shooting, including some pivotal baskets down the stretch. Jimmy Jackson chipped in 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting. But everyone knows the Sixers don't go anywhere without Allen Iverson.

Iverson, looking despondent for the third game in a row, was 0 for 4 in the fourth quarter, 1 for 10 in the second half and 2 for 17 for the game, finishing with just seven points, and nine assists.

``I don't know what's wrong with me right now,'' Iverson said. ``I think I'm just thinking too much, second-guessing myself about what I should do and when I should do it.

``I can't really blame anyone but myself, but this has never happened to me before. I don't know what to do.''

Neither did the Sixers when the game was on the line.

After holding the Pistons to just 11 points in the second quarter, and to just one field goal in the last 5 minutes, 23 seconds, the Sixers held a 46-32 halftime lead.

Although it was no secret that the Pistons would make a run, the Sixers seemed more than capable of holding them off.

Grant Hill was passive. Stackhouse was off-target and prone to turnovers (he finished with seven), and Detroit's inconsistency was enough for the Sixers to stay ahead, 71-56, after leading by 55-34 in the first two minutes of the third period.

But in the fourth quarter, the Sixers ``did what we normally do,'' Brown said. ``We got our heads down, expecting the worst.''

It came in a 9-1 Detroit run, led by a layup and free throw from Stackhouse. Before the Sixers knew it, only 2:08 remained and Hill's free throw had pulled Detroit to within 91-89.

For a few minutes, Coleman and Jackson came up big, combining for eight straight Sixers points. But after Coleman nailed one of two free throws with 1:50 left, making it 92-89, the Sixers did not score again.

Grant Long followed up three Detroit misses with a tip-follow 20 seconds later and then watched as Hill spotted Brian Williams underneath for a layup that turned into a three-point play when he was fouled by Aaron McKie with 52.9 seconds left.

Six seconds later, Iverson had a chance to tie the game at the free-throw line, but missed both shots.

``They gave me the ball, and I blew it,'' he said sadly.

The Sixers had still another chance with 6.4 seconds left. Thomas, who received the ball in front of the Sixers' bench, drove to his left, went in the lane and pulled up for a jumper. Stackhouse swatted the ball right back at him.

``I'm real happy I made the play, and even more happy the evening's over,'' said Stackhouse, who received a mixture of boos and cheers when he entered the game with 4:44 left in the first quarter.

``It was difficult coming in here and playing in front of fans and against teammates I care so much about,'' he said. ``But we got the win, and I'm happy.''

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