Dalembert donates, dunks 76ers past Kings
PHILADELPHIA – Sam Dalembert learned Friday that an uncle, a carpenter feared dead in his home country Haiti, was alive. His godfather finally contacted Dalembert’s relatives.
Dalembert felt some personal peace that family members were alive. But hearing the first-hand accounts of the extreme death and destruction in earthquake-ravaged Port-au-Prince has left the NBA’s only Haitian wanting to help his countrymen so much more.
“I feel much better, but still my heart is for those who lost their loved ones,” he said.
The Philadelphia 76ers center finds 48 minutes of distraction each night on the court. Dalembert made a $100,000 donation to help relief efforts, then had 17 points and 12 rebounds to lift the Sixers to a 98-86 win over the Sacramento Kings on Friday night.
“I’m trying to do my best and contribute,” a reserved Dalembert said of the relief effort. “The Philadelphia people responded. Everybody everywhere responded. That’s a really good feeling. We’re a nation of good hearts.”
Dalembert taped a public service announcement for UNICEF encouraging fans to support the relief efforts in his home country. His donation went to UNICEF.
“I know, at a time like this, times are tough in our own home. But you find a good heart to help us out,” he told the crowd before the game. “Everything is accepted. Don’t feel like anything is too small to help out.”
The Philly fans responded. The Sixers said after the game they raised more than $30,000 at the UNICEF table on the concourse during Friday’s game. Dalembert pledged to match the amount of money donated by Sixers fans.
“As soon as the game starts, my mind is basically on the game,” he said. “I try to not think about anything. The game is a good distraction.”
Dalembert made all seven of his shots and had three blocks.
Thaddeus Young scored 20 points for the Sixers and Allen Iverson had 17. The Sixers hit a pair of 3-pointers during a 10-0 run in the fourth quarter that turned a tight game into a comfortable victory in front of one of their largest crowds of the season.
The Sixers are a modest 3-2 since team president Ed Stefanski refused to guarantee coach Eddie Jordan would last the season. They could be headed toward their usual pattern of getting off to a miserable start before regrouping in January and February and sneaking into the playoffs.
Jason Thompson had 19 points and 16 rebounds for the Kings. Kevin Martin scored 19 points in his first game after missing the past 32 with a wrist injury. Martin was injured Nov. 2 when he collided with Iverson, then with Memphis.
The game marked a homecoming for Kings guard Tyreke Evans, of nearby Chester, Pa. He was a McDonald’s All-American out of American Christian and a two-time state player of the year.
One of the league’s top rookies, Evans failed to impress his hometown crowd, scoring 14 points. He missed 10 of 13 shots from the floor and made all eight free throws. He had hundreds of fans waiting for him near the Kings bench after the game.
“I was glad for people to see me play for the first time,” he said. “I was probably thinking about it a little too much out there.”
Elton Brand – who was benched for entire fourth quarters a month ago – scored 14 points for the Sixers and continued to find success in his role as an $80 million reserve. Dalembert and Brand combined to make their first 10 shots from the floor, the kind of production the Sixers envisioned they’d see more out of the frontcourt.
“I’m glad to be out there and contribute to winning,” Brand said. “That’s what hurt the most, losing and not being out there. Being out there trying to help, you feel good about yourself.”
Andre Iguodala, who sprained his right ankle in the first quarter and briefly left the game, started the fourth-quarter run with a 3-pointer, then sank two free throws the next time down. Lou Williams capped the small but decisive spurt with another 3 that turned a one-point lead into an 11-point edge.
Iguodala, who said his ankle was bothering him “quite a lot,” scored 12 points and had 10 rebounds.
Dalembert has long been the most-maligned Sixer because of his erratic production for such a bloated contract. He’s enjoying one of his finest seasons and had his eighth double-double of the season.
“Sam’s been anchoring us the whole year,” Iguodala said.”
NOTES: The 76ers held a moment of silence for late R&B singer Teddy Pendergrass, who died Wednesday. … The Comcast-Spectacor Foundation made a $10,000 donation to UNICEF, and Comcast-Spectacor – which owns the 76ers and Philadelphia Flyers – planned to air public service announcements. … The Sixers held the Kings to a season-low 37 percent shooting. … Iguodala had his fifth double-double.