PHILADELPHIA, April 28 (Ticker) -- Allen Iverson
refused to let the Philadelphia 76ers' season end.
Iverson scored 13 of his 42 points in the fourth quarter as the
defending Eastern Conference champions avoided elimination with
a tense 108-103 victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of
their first-round series.
The Sixers avoided a best-of-five series sweep for the first
time since 1991 against Milwaukee. They host Game 4 on
Allen Iverson's 42 points lifted the Sixers to victory in Game 3.|
Responding in pressure situations is nothing new for Iverson.
"That's my life," Iverson said. "That's just what I've been going
through since I've been in the league, so I'm kind of used to
it. When we lose, people are going to point the finger at me
and coach. And when we win gaems, I get the praise. You just
accept that and understand that's the way it's going to be."
It was the eighth time Iverson scored at least 40 points in a
playoff game. The Sixers are 7-1 in those contests.
"We have another chance to play and we have to put pressure on
them, where they feel it," Sixers coach Larry Brown said. "It
doesn't look to me like they're feeling it. They're playing with
a lot of poise and have a lot to be proud of."
Philadelphia also got a big game from Eric Snow, who scored 23
points. After going a combined 4-of-25 in the first two games of
the series, he made 9-of-14 shots in Game 3 and scored six
straight points for the Sixers during one stretch in the fourth
"There was no pressure on them at all," Snow said. "All of the
pressure was on us. Fortunately, we were able to pull this game
out and now we have to take care of our home and win on
Wednesday and even the series."
The Celtics, looking to move into the second round for the first
time since 1992, were in position to close out the Sixers,
taking a 103-100 lead on Rodney Rogers' 3-pointer with 1:32
remaining. But the Sixers scored the final eight points.
"It's a game we should have had," Boston forward Paul Pierce
said. "We're up three with under three minutes to go. We gave
ourselves a chance to win after being down in the first half.
It's definitely one we should have had."
All season, the Celtics lived by the 3-pointer. On this day,
however, they died by it.
Derrick Coleman, who played a strong game with 18 points and
nine rebounds, followed Aaron McKie's miss to give Philadelphia
a 104-103 lead with 45 seconds left.
Pierce scored 29 points for the Celtics, but missed a 3-pointer
from the top of the key on the ensuing possession. Boston was
forced to foul, and Iverson hit two more from the line, making
it 106-103 with 19 seconds to play.
"I felt that everybody would come out and play the game like it
was their last," Iverson said. "But we didn't have a choice. If
you can't get up for a game like this, there's something wrong.
You're not a basketball player, you're not a competitor."
Rogers and Pierce missed 3-pointers on Boston's last possession,
and Coleman clinched the win with two from the line with 1.1
seconds to go.
"It's now Game 4," Pierce said. "We expected a war. We didn't
expect Philly to bow down to us in Game 3. We expect
another war for the next game."
Antoine Walker scored 27 points for Boston but was shut out from
3-point range in the second half after making all seven of his
attempts from behind the arc in the opening 24 minutes. He
finished 7-of-13 from downtown.
"We feel like we're still very confident we can beat them here,"
Walker said. "Obviously, they're going to feel really good and
come out with a lot of energy on Wednesday. We have to be
prepared and ready to match their energy again."
While the Sixers never have rallied to win a best-of-five series
after losing the first two games, they have renewed hopes since
Iverson seems to have shaken off the rust after missing the
final 14 games of the regular season with a broken hand.
The NBA scoring champion rebounded from a shaky outing in Game
2, when he made just 10-of-29 shots. He took over Sunday's
contest down the stretch, scoring 11 of the Sixers' final 15
points, and was deadly from the line, making 19-of-20 free
"We had big games from a lot of people," Iverson said. "To beat
a team like that, you're going to have to have a lot of guys
Overall, Philadelphia was 36-of-44 from the line, compared to
just 16-of-18 for Boston, which ran most of its offense from the
perimeter. The Sixers shot 45 percent (33-of-74).
"We didn't get the calls," Boston guard Kenny Anderson said. "We
can't cry about it, but we didn't get the calls."
Spurred on by a fired-up crowd at the First Union Center, the
Sixers opened an 11-point lead in the first quarter. Boston
withstood Philadelphia's early burst and Walker's shooting
helped it close to 58-52 at intermission.
The Celtics tried to bury the Sixers with a long-range assault,
making 15 of 30 3-pointers, a playoff record for a Philadelphia
Boston opened the second half with a 10-2 spurt, taking a 62-60
lead on Pierce's 3-pointer. The Celtics got their lead up to
74-68 on Tony Battie's jumper midway through the third period.
But Philadelphia took an 83-81 advantage into the final quarter
and the contest remained close until the Sixers took control in
the final minute.
Walter McCarty followed in Pierce's miss to give the Celtics a
96-93 lead with 5 1/2 minutes left, but Iverson answered with a
3-pointer, pulling the Sixers even with 4:22 remaining.
The game also was tied at 98-98 and 100-100 before Rogers gave
the Celtics their last lead.
Rogers scored 13 points and Anderson added 11 for the Celtics,
who shot 49 percent (36-of-73) overall.