Philadelphia 76ers Coach Larry Brown has always had a roller-coaster relationship with superstar point guard Allen Iverson.
Last night, it took a definite downturn.
Brown benched three starters, including Iverson, the league's leading scorer, for the final 20 minutes of Philadelphia's 104-91 loss to the Pistons in Auburn Hills, Mich. A fourth starter, Tyrone Hill, played only one minute in that stretch.
"I've never sat down in the second half for nothing before," the angry Iverson said. "For some reason, my style doesn't fit this team no more."
Philadelphia trailed by 23 when Brown pulled all five starters with 8 minutes 15 seconds left in the third period. George Lynch played most of the fourth, but Iverson, Eric Snow and Theo Ratliff stayed on the bench, even when the Sixers pulled within seven.
"I need to get out of here," Iverson said. "It's as simple as that. Something needs to happen. Right now, I don't like what is going on. When I get back to Philly, I'll let that be known. However you look at it, I'm going to be the bad guy, but I'll deal with it. I've never been done like that ever in my career."
Brown said that the mass benching wasn't aimed just at Iverson, who was playing just his fourth game since returning from a fractured thumb.
"It wasn't an indictment of one guy," Brown said. "It's everybody in the first group. Everybody's got to execute, everybody's got to share the ball and everybody's got to defend. That's not happening."
Iverson still led Philadelphia in scoring with 19, and backup Matt Geiger added 17.
Jerry Stackhouse led Detroit with 26 points and Grant Hill added 20 points and seven assists.
* SUNS 119, KINGS 103: Jason Kidd had his second triple-double in as many nights and Scott Skiles stayed unbeaten as the Phoenix coach as the Suns beat visiting Sacramento.
Kidd had 27 points, 14 assists and 14 rebounds, along with four steals, one night after getting 32 points, 10 assists and 12 rebounds in the Suns' 110-102 victory at Portland.
"Jason Kidd is the best point guard in the league right now, no question about it," Sacramento's Vlade Divac said.
Sacramento played the second half without Chris Webber, who left with a strained neck with 1 minute 4 seconds left in the second quarter.
* HORNETS 106, HEAT 89: Eddie Jones scored 24 points and Derrick Coleman had 19 as visiting Charlotte won its eighth consecutive game. With the victory, Charlotte moved into first place in the Eastern Conference for the first time in franchise history. The Hornets have won 11 of 12 at home, and improved to 5-6 on the road. Miami has lost four straight.
* NUGGETS 86, SPURS 84: Nick Van Exel and Bryant Stith each scored a basket in the last 21 seconds and Ron Mercer had 25 points as host Denver beat San Antonio for the first in nearly three years.
* JAZZ 106, HAWKS 96: Karl Malone scored 33 points, including the go-ahead layup in the closing minutes, keying an 11-0 run by visiting Utah.
"You can always allow yourself the excuse that you're tired and you're old, but you still have to play the game," Malone said.
* NETS 98, CAVALIERS 74: Kerry Kittles scored 18 points and sparked New Jersey on an 18-2 spurt to start the second half in Cleveland.
"I apologize to the fans who sat through that and paid money to see," Cavaliers Coach Randy Wittman said. "I apologize to our fans for the effort that was displayed. It was a disgrace."
* BUCKS 109, PACERS 95: In Milwaukee, Glenn Robinson scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Reserve Danny Manning had a season-high 19 points for the Bucks, who had lost 10 straight to the Pacers. "We let too many of their role players have too much life," Indiana's Reggie Miller said.
* MAGIC 83, BULLS 74: John Amaechi scored 13 points and visiting Orlando used its superior bench to send host Chicago to its 19th loss in 21 games.
"Our press turned the energy around in the third quarter and we got turnovers and we got running," Orlando Coach Doc Rivers said. "Sometimes when you're flat, pressing can turn you around."
* ROCKETS 100, CELTICS 94: Reserve Kelvin Cato hit his first 11 shots and finished with 27 points and 12 rebounds to help host Houston end a five-game losing streak.
* TIMBERWOLVES 108, MAVERICKS 104: Kevin Garnett had 27 points and 14 rebounds as host Minnesota snapped an eight-game losing streak.
* SUPERSONICS 112, GRIZZLIES 89: Gary Payton scored 26 points as host Seattle ruined the head coaching debut of Lionel Hollins. Hollins was named interim head coach by Grizzlies President Stu Jackson earlier last week, replacing Brian Hill.