TORONTO, May 13 (AP) --
-- Nobody came close to scoring 50. The biggest shot in this game was the one that gave Allen Iverson
|Allen Iverson hangs a fadeaway jumper on Vince Carter.|
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Iverson nailed a 3-pointer with 2:21 remaining to break the last tie, and the Philadelphia 76ers regained their poise and came up with enough of a balanced attack to beat the Toronto Raptors 84-79 Sunday.
"Nobody ever told me that winning a championship was easy, and I found out the hard way that isn't easy to win a playoff game," said Iverson, who shot 10-for-30 but came though in the clutch after Toronto had rallied from a 16-point deficit.
The 76ers evened the best-of-seven series at two games apiece and regained homecourt advantage heading into Game 5 Wednesday night.
All the news wasn't good, however, as starting small forward George Lynch
fractured his left foot in the third quarter and will be out for the rest of the playoffs.
"It's disappointing because we've figured out what we need to do to stop the Raptors in this series -- we have to slow the ball down and get our defense set. We did that today and built a nice comfortable lead for most of the game," Lynch said.
The Sixers also played with the energy and determination that had been missing in Game 3, prompting them to call two players-only meetings to clear the air.
, the NBA's sixth man of the year, moved into Philadelphia's starting lineup and had 18 points, five assists and five rebounds. He also spent almost the entire game defending Vince Carter
, helping hold him to 25 points on 8-for-27 shooting.
bounced back from a poor Game 3 and had 13 points and 17 rebounds for the Sixers, who won despite Tyrone Hill
being in foul trouble throughout the game and Lynch leaving late in the third quarter.
"I told them after the meeting that I wasn't worried at all about this game," Iverson said. "I really felt we were going to get this game, and I found out more about my teammates in this game."
Iverson wasn't at his best, shooting 3-for-12 in the second half, but he did hit the one shot that deflated the Raptors after they had spent so much time clawing their way back.
It was a straightaway 3-pointer over Carter with 2:21 left that gave the Sixers an 81-78 lead.
"I couldn't make a shot in the second half, but I thought I could make that one and kind of turn things around for us, and fortunately I was able to hit it," Iverson said.
Said Eric Snow
: "They had just tied the game and thought they had the momentum, but that was a big momentum-breaker right there."
and Charles Oakley
committed turnovers on Toronto's next two possessions, and Iverson hit Snow with a pass for an open jumper that put Philadelphia ahead 83-78 with 1:48 left.
This series had been marked by spectacular games by Iverson (54 points in Game 2) and Carter (50 in Game 3), but this one was more pedestrian. Iverson finished with 30, while Carter led Toronto with 25.
Davis added 15, Alvin Williams
had 14 and Oakley had 11 rebounds and 11 rebounds to accompany a handful of mental errors -- the worst of which came when he dribbled the ball 50 feet upcourt with the clock ticking inside 50 seconds and Toronto trailing by four. Iverson came up behind him and stole the ball.
"I was going for the basket, but he snuck up behind me like a cornerback and made the interception," Oakley said.
McKie, who replaced Snow as a starter, scored 10 points in the third quarter to help keep Philadelphia in front. Lynch injured his left foot late in the same quarter when he stepped on Alvin Williams
' foot. He was to undergo surgery Sunday night for a fractured fifth metatarsal.
The problem for the Raptors in the first half was their accuracy -- they managed to get open shots but couldn't put them down. Oakley missed all six of his shots in the half, and Toronto missed 10 in a row during the second quarter to drop their percentage to 22.2.
McKie scored Philadelphia's first eight points of the third quarter, and a three-point play by Mutombo off an offensive rebound gave the Sixers a 60-46 lead.
Oakley hit a 3-pointer with 15 seconds left that allowed Toronto to cut its deficit to 70-61 entering the fourth, and Carter opened the final quarter with a 3-pointer to make it a six-point game.
In most games, that would be when Iverson would start to take over. But Toronto sent double-teams at him and forced him to give the ball up, leading to two missed jumpers by Snow, a forced jumper by Iverson, an offensive goaltending violation and a missed 20-footer by Iverson on the Sixers' next five possessions.
Toronto pulled within three and twice missed chances to get closer, and a layup by Hill -- his first points of the game -- with 4:10 left gave the 76ers a 78-73 lead.
A tip-in by Carter, another missed jumper by Iverson and a 3-pointer by Childs allowed the Raptors to finally tie the game at 78-78 with 2:46 left. But Iverson immediately answered with a 3-pointer, and the Sixers held the lead the rest of the way.
Referee Steve Javie was an in intolerant mood, issuing technical fouls to Larry Brown, Childs and Hill within a span of 2:34 in the second quarter. ... Toronto coach Lenny Wilkens used his reserves for a total of just 20 minutes -- eight each for Jerome Williams
and Dell Curry
, four for Keon Clark