Saturday, March 14, 2009
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76ers close Spectrum with win over Bulls

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[March 14, 2009]  PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The 76ers took Dr. J up on his challenge to beat the Bulls one last time at the Spectrum.

Thaddeus Young scored a career-high 31 points and Andre Iguodala had 25 to spark Philadelphia to a 104-101 victory over Chicago on Friday night in the final NBA game at the 42-year-old Spectrum.

Julius Erving implored the Sixers to beat the Bulls in a pregame ceremony, where he was feted with members of the 1966-67 and 1982-83 NBA champion Sixers. They were on hand for one last game at the dated arena that is targeted for demolition by the end of this year.

The Sixers, who normally play across the street at the Wachovia Center, gave a capacity crowd one more thriller to remember in their first game here since April 19, 1996.

The Sixers played their first game at the Spectrum on Oct. 18, 1967, and beat the Lakers 103-87.

This one was a lot tighter down the stretch and the Sixers were saved by a pair of clutch blocks in the final minutes. The first was Iguodala's rejection of Ben Gordon's shot, then Samuel Dalembert stuffed Derrick Rose in a play the Sixers turned into Young's clinching dunk for a 104-101 lead that electrified the crowd.

Moments earlier, the Bulls threatened to make it 42 years, plus an overtime.

Gordon's 3-pointer with 36 seconds left tied the game at 101, then Iguodala put the Sixers ahead by one when he made the second of two free throws.

Rose led the Bulls with 20 points.


Andre Miller had 13 points and 13 assists, and Dalembert grabbed 19 rebounds for the Sixers.

The 76ers led by 11, but Tim Thomas buried two quick 3-pointers and tied the score at 88. Young tied his career high of 29 on a soft jumper that made it 90-88.

Young scored 29 only two nights earlier in a win against Toronto.

Perhaps the Sixers were inspired for a thrilling victory by the pregame festivities that included two banners for the Sixers championship teams unfurled from the rafters, along with one former public address announcer Dave Zinkoff.

Erving thanked the fans and told today's 76ers to be great ambassadors for the city. Then he issued his challenge for Philadelphia to, "take care of the Chicago Bulls like we used to."

"There will be a void when this building doesn't exist anymore," he said. "I used to proudly bring family and friends to Philadelphia and find time to bring them down to see the statue of me."

Young had to make Erving proud when he scored 14 points in the third quarter, driving to the hoop for easy baskets and hitting mid-range jumpers on the refurbished 1983 championship court.

The authentic court was one of many old school features for the special night. Most notably, no rap or dance music was blasted through the arena during play. Some oldies were played during timeouts, and recordings of organ music were played to pump up the fans. There were plenty of fans as a sold-out crowd of 17,563 filled the last row of the arena for once for the Sixers, who entered the game 24th in the NBA in attendance.

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"I can't tell you how happy I'm going to be to see a full house for the Sixers," team chairman Ed Snider said.

The nostalgic fans surely didn't want to leave their rickety seats to miss any action: There was no video board for instant replays.

Snider, around since the building's inception, pointed toward his old seat for Flyers games and fondly reminisced about his interactions with fans who grumbled after every loss and went wild for every win.

"They'd tell me the seat is broken, I'd say what number is it. I'd write it down," Snider said. "Or they'd tell me the officials are terrible."

"I loved it here and I missed it."

The demolition of the Spectrum will be part of a larger plan for a retail and entertainment development at the stadium complex, where the Phillies and Eagles also play. Snider said plans for the project, dubbed Philly Live!, were moving forward.

"It's going to happen," he said.

Notes: Snider was a big fan of Billy Joel and recalled going backstage before a Spectrum concert to present him with a Flyers jersey that had a "Joel" and "1" on the back. Joel accepted the jersey, looked and Snider and said, "I'm an Islanders fan." ... Snider's favorite moment was the Flyers clinching the Stanley Cup against Boston in 1974. ... The Spectrum is used mostly for concerts and minor league hockey. The Flyers played two preseason games there in September. .. Comcast-Spectacor hopes the last event is a concert on Sept. 30 to mark the date the arena opened with the Quaker City Jazz Festival.

[Associated Press; By DAN GELSTON]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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