CLEVELAND (AP) — Back when the Philadelphia 76ers were 3-13, close games often went the other way.
Winning teams find ways to pull them out, and that’s what the 76ers are now.
The 76ers moved above .500 for the first time this season with a 95-91 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday.
Philadelphia, which has won a season-high four straight games, held off a late rally that saw the Cavaliers cut a 15-point lead in the second half to two in the final seconds.
“This was a game that early in the season we would have lost,” coach Doug Collins said. “When we were struggling, we would have found a way to lose this one.”
They didn’t Sunday, thanks to a balanced attack. Elton Brand and Lou Williams scored 16 points apiece, and the 76ers placed six players in double figures.
The game typified Cleveland’s season. On a night newly acquired point guard Baron Davis was introduced to the media, leading scorer Antawn Jamison left the game in the third quarter with a broken little finger on his left hand. Coach Byron Scott doesn’t know how long Jamison, who scored 16 points in 30 minutes, will be out.
“We’ll have a little bit more of an understanding on what’s going to happen in the next day or so,” Scott said.
J.J. Hickson had 22 points and 16 rebounds for Cleveland. Davis, acquired Thursday from the Los Angeles Clippers, didn’t play. Scott wants Davis, who arrived in Cleveland on Saturday, to practice with the team before he plays in a game.
Brand left the game briefly in the third quarter with a dislocated little finger on his left hand.
“I didn’t want to come out, but the medical staff took me to get it fixed,” he said. “I felt it when I came back in, but I wanted to play. I’ll ice it, be at practice, and try not to think about it.”
The 76ers (30-29) have won six of seven and 13 of 17. Philadelphia is 27-16 since Nov. 26 and is seventh in the Eastern Conference standings.
“Coach is right about us probably losing this game a couple months ago,” Brand said. “We’ve grown a lot. The bench gave us a huge lift, gave us the chance to win.”
“We’ve been feeling good every since we started winning,” added guard Jrue Holiday, who scored 13 points. “It’s all about confidence. When a team makes a run at us, like Cleveland did tonight, we know we can come back and win. The difference in our confidence level now and last year is a lot.”
The Cavaliers (11-48) were coming off a victory over the New York Knicks and newly acquired forward Carmelo Anthony on Friday. Cleveland defeated the Los Angeles Lakers before the All-Star break, but can’t sustain any kind of winning streak.
“We’ve been up and down,” Scott said. “We’re still trying to learn what it takes to be successful every single night.”
Cleveland got off to a quick start and led 21-10 before the 76ers went on a 12-2 run to end the first quarter. Philadelphia’s spurt carried over to the second period, when the 76ers scored 10 of the first 14 points to take a 32-27 lead.
Philadelphia was ahead 49-43 at halftime and steadily built the lead throughout the third quarter. The lead reached 15 points before Cleveland began to cut into the margin.
Cleveland got within 91-88 with 48 seconds to play on Ramon Sessions’ jumper.
Hickson’s turnover denied Cleveland a chance to tie and Holiday hit two free throws with 11.1 seconds left.
Daniel Gibson hit a 3-pointer with 7.9 seconds remaining, but Jodie Meeks made two free throws with 6.9 seconds left to wrap up the game.
Meeks scored 14 points, Thaddeus Young had 12 while Evan Turner added 10.
Sessions had 20 points and 10 assists for Cleveland.
NOTES: The 76ers hadn’t been over .500 since they were 3-2 on Nov. 6, 2009. … Turner, the second pick in last summer’s draft, played his college ball at Ohio State. … C Semih Erden and F Luke Harangody, acquired from Boston on Thursday, didn’t play. Scott hopes all three of his new players will play in Cleveland’s next game, which will be Wednesday night against San Antonio. Scott lists Davis, who has been playing with a sore left knee all season, as questionable.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)