PHILADELPHIA, May 1 (Ticker) -- Allen Iverson
had the finish Paul
and Antoine Walker
were looking for.
Iverson scored eight of his 28 points in the final 73 seconds to
salvage his team's season and lead the Philadelphia 76ers to an
83-81 victory over the Boston Celtics that evened their Eastern
Conference first-round series at two games each.
"Win. It's the only thing we can think about," Iverson said.
"We fought hard to get back in the series. We're really not
thinking about anything more. The only thing I care about is
After shooting poorly all game, Iverson made his last three
shots and two clinching free throws that sent the series between
the long-time rivals back to Boston for Game Five on Friday.
Allen Iverson caught fire in the fourth quarter, scoring 12 of his 28 points in the frame.|
Jesse D. Garrabrant
Iverson upstaged Pierce and Walker, who are playing in their
first postseason. They have carried the Celtics all season but
again came up just a bit short in their quest to eliminate the
defending Eastern Conference champions.
Pierce had to work hard for his 20 points as he struggled for
most of the game before coming alive briefly in the fourth
quarter. Walker scored 25 points but was scoreless in the final
"This is what playoff basketball is all about," Pierce said.
"Nobody said it was going to be easy when we got here. It's
"It's hard to get the clinching game," said Iverson, who has
gotten five of them in his career. "Those shots at the
beginning of the game are a lot easier than the ones at end of
the game, when you're looking to close a team out."
The 76ers found themselves trailing 77-75 with 1:17 remaining
and watched as Aaron McKie
missed the potential tying free
throws. But the second miss was back-tapped to Iverson, who
quickly drove for a tough floating layup.
"Even though he was struggling shooting, we were still in the
game," 76ers coach Larry Brown said. "He was 5-for-21 and we
still were in it. He kept his head, and obviously he made a huge
shot on the missed free throws. "
tapped it and it just went right into my
hands," Iverson said. "I saw that there wasn't anyone on the
right side of the floor, so I took it right and tried to put it
off the glass. It hit the side of the rim, but I guess I shot
it soft enough that it was able to go in."
At the other end, McKie poked the ball away from Pierce. Eric
picked it up and fed a streaking Iverson for a layup and a
79-77 lead with 54 seconds to go.
Pierce missed a layup, but the rebound was tipped to Rodney
, whose banker tied it with 38 seconds left. Iverson
responded with a fadeaway jumper over Kenny Anderson
81-79 edge with 22 seconds to go.
Walker left a 3-pointer short, and it bounced out of bounds with
2.3 seconds to play. Iverson was fouled and made both free
throws to seal it.
"I know that the play did run correctly," Walker said. "I was
feeling it all night. It felt good leaving my hands. I thought I
was going to make it."
Coleman had 14 points and nine rebounds and Dikembe Mutombo
added 10 and 14 for the Sixers, who are trying to defy history. They
have never won a series after losing the first two games, and only
six teams have erased an 0-2 deficit to win a best-of-five series.
"They had the momentum the first two game at home," McKie said.
"They played well, they made shots and made plays. We came here
in Philly and we scratched and clawed and got two wins. Now I
think the pressure pretty much is on those guys. We have come
out and be aggressive and attack those guys early."
"A series played this hard maybe should go down to five games,"
Celtics coach Jim O'Brien said. "May the best team win."
Pierce made 7-of-16 shots but battled foul trouble and
sloppiness. He committed seven turnovers and was hounded by
McKie in the final period.
"I was pretty much trying to do the same things I had been doing
all series long, just push him out a little and make him work
for his shots," McKie said. "You have to understand, when
you're playing the games, there are players who are going to
touch the ball 50-60 percent of the time. They are going to get
their baskets and they are going to go to the free throw line.
You want to make them work for it and make it tough."
Walker made 9-of-21 shots and again was launching from deep,
hitting 5-of-11 3-pointers. He has attempted 26 3-pointers in
the last two games after taking just seven in the first two.
Boston was 9-of-29 from the arc and under 40 percent (31-of-78)
overall. It shot just 14 free throws while Philadelphia
attacked the basket more often and attempted 30.
"They took 29 threes again," Brown said. "Even though they make
some that break your back, we have to find a way to keep them
out on the perimeter."
"I just worry about shot selection," O'Brien said. "I don't
worry about missing sometimes."
In a game that was tight throughout, the Sixers led 38-36 at
halftime. Walker scored 11 points in the third quarter,
including five in a 7-0 spurt that gave the Celtics a 61-55 lead
late in the period.
A low-post basket by Eric Williams
gave Boston its largest lead
at 65-58 with 11:01 to go before Philadelphia rallied. McKie
started and ended a 10-2 surge with jumpers, giving the Sixers a
68-67 lead with 6:40 to go.
made a 3-pointer, but Iverson hit a jumper and
found McKie for an inside basket. Pierce finally came alive,
making a free throw and 3-pointer around a basket by Snow to
pull Boston into a 74-74 tie with 2:25 left.
Snow made a free throw, but Pierce followed in his own miss and
drew a foul. The three-point play gave the Celtics a 77-75 edge
with 1:39 remaining.
"We had a few bad turnovers and a couple of fouls that got them
back in the game," Walker said. "It was a game of runs. It was
a very good basketball game between two teams that are capable
of stops and spurts. They got the last spurt at the end and they
came out with the win."
McKie had 11 points and five steals and Snow handed out 11 assists
for the Sixers, who shot 47 percent (31-of-67), their best showing
of the series.
Anderson had 12 points and eight assists for the Celtics, who
were beaten on the boards, 43-37.