Allen Iverson was tired from playing 52 minutes and hurting from at least three injuries.
He was also the driving force behind the Philadelphia 76ers, who moved to the top of the NBA with an impressive victory in Sacramento.
Iverson scored 46 points with a whirling array of beautiful shots, and Aaron McKie punctuated his triple-double by hitting a 3-pointer to break a tie with 39 seconds left in overtime as the 76ers earned the NBA's best record with a 107-104 victory over the Kings on Saturday.
"That plane ride home won't be that bad now," Iverson said with a grin. "My ears will be ringing for a while from the crowd (at Arco Arena), but a win like this in a place like this is as good as it gets if you're a basketball player."
The game matched the teams with the NBA's best records entering January, but the 76ers (21-8) jumped ahead early with a blistering first quarter and never trailed the Kings (20-8) despite several nip-and-tuck minutes in regulation and a tense overtime.
"It was just an unbelievable win, because (the Kings) are a great team," Sixers coach Larry Brown said. "This is a phenomenally tough place to play, but we managed to gut it out. ... Allen was spectacular, and Aaron was great."
Iverson, who also had nine rebounds and nine assists, drove the lane and passed to McKie in the corner for the go-ahead shot. Sacramento couldn't score on its last two possessions, and Jon Barry's 3-pointer with a second left was short.
With Iverson's artistry and a dominant rebounding performance, the Sixers won their NBA-best 14th road game their seventh in a row and snapped Sacramento's nine-game home winning streak. McKie had 19 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds iPhiladelphia's first win at Arco Arena in 11 years.
"Aaron was the unsung guy tonight," Brown said. "Allen got us there, but Aaron put us over the top."
Iverson missed a game last week with a dislocated right shoulder and also is nursing a left hip pointer and a sore right elbow. But the 1999 NBA scoring champion used the nationally televised meeting of the NBA's conference leaders to show he's healthy and ready to make the Sixers better than they've ever been in his career.
Peja Stojakovic scored a career-high 33 points for the Kings, and he hit four straight free throws in overtime which tied it at 104 with 54 seconds left.
"We didn't play the whole game good at all," Stojakovic said. "We chased them the whole 48 minutes. I think only in the last seven or eight minutes we played like we're capable of playing."
Sacramento is 13-2 at home, with both losses coming in overtime. The Kings were outrebounded 57-39.
"They beat us to a lot of loose balls and long rebounds," Sacramento coach Rick Adelman said. "When Iverson's on the floor, it's really difficult because he draws so much attention. When you come at him, you open yourself up to the boards."
Chris Webber, fighting a case of stomach flu, had 29 points and 10 rebounds but missed a potential game-winning jumper with five seconds left in regulation.
The Kings outscored the Sixers 32-15 in the fourth quarter thanks to 11 points by Stojakovic including three straight 3-pointers and Bobby Jackson's solid defense on Iverson after the Philadelphia star embarrassed Jason Williams for much of the game.
Sacramento pulled within one with five minutes remaining and tied it at 96 on Webber's driving layup with 2:01 left. It was tied at 98 when Webber missed a jumper with five seconds left, and Jackson's tip attempt missed by an inch.
Philadelphia got the last shot of regulation, but Iverson's 17-footer was off.
The Sixers opened the game in an offensive groove, hitting 14 of their first 20 shots and steadily opening an 18-point lead in the first quarter. Sacramento chipped back in the next two quarters, but they never pulled within striking distance of the lead until the final minutes.
"The only thing that could top this would be if the Eagles get a win on Sunday," Brown said of the NFL wild-card game against Tampa Bay at Veterans Stadium.
# McKie and Brown received technical fouls late in the first half for protesting a foul call on McKie. Brown nearly came to half-court to scream at referee Jason Phillips.
# The Sixers also were irked that a backcourt violation wasn't called o Jackson with 24 seconds left in regulation. The referees said Jackson didn't have possession of the inbounds pass before he fumbled it into the backcourt.
# The 76ers hadn't won at Arco Arena since March 1, 1989, when Charles Barkley had a triple-double.