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Philadelphia 90, New Orleans 85
Sixers Up 2-0 After Home Sweep

Kenny Thomas tallied 17 points on 6-for-11 shooting Wednesday.
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PHILADELPHIA, April 23 (Ticker) -- The New Orleans Hornets are going to have a tough time rallying against the Philadelphia 76ers without their two best players.

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Allen Iverson scored 29 points and Kenny Thomas collected 17 and 16 rebounds as the Sixers took a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series with a 90-85 victory over the Hornets.

New Orleans played Game Two without starting point guard Baron Davis, who is sidelined with knee problems that plagued him throughout the season. Matters were made worse for the Hornets midway through third quarter, when leading scorer Jamal Mashburn left with a dislocated right index finger.

"It's part of trying to be a professional. We're going to have to go out there and play, regardless of who is out there," Mashburn said. "It's part of the business. People are going to get hurt. It's bad timing for me and the whole organization. People got to play. The series still goes on."

"They have a team that has a lot of injuries to a lot of key guys. It's like going up against a wounded animal," Sixers guard Aaron McKie said. "They have guys who are capable of giving an effort, and they are going to fight to the finish."

Mashburn returned but was ineffective, scoring just one point in the fourth quarter. He finished with 14 points and is considered day-to-day.

"I just couldn't hold or pass the ball," he said. "There were times where I was passing with my left hand. I just couldn't extend (the finger). I was in a lot of pain. I was shooting basically off the palm of my hand.

"I want to be out there. If at all possible, I will be out there."

Philadelphia led by as many as 17 points in the first half, but New Orleans pulled within four before Mashburn exited.

"(The 76ers) came out very aggressive," New Orleans coach Paul Silas said. "We handled it pretty well, then, of course, Mash goes down and there's your ballgame. We were within four points when Mash went out and hung around but just didn't have enough firepower."

Iverson scored 10 points in the third quarter, capping it with a long 3-pointer to give the Sixers a 76-66 lead.

Mashburn opened the fourth quarter by making 1-of-2 free throws but left with 6:56 remaining and did not return.

David Wesley and Stacey Augmon made consecutive shots as New Orleans climbed within 76-71 with just under 10 minutes remaining, but Philadelphia scored eight of the next 10 points, highlighted by a pair of jumpers by Iverson.

Thomas finished off the run with a free throw that gave Philadelphia an 84-73 cushion with 3:40 remaining. New Orleans got no closer than seven thereafter, despite making 4-of-6 shots and three free throws in the final 3 1/2 minutes.

Iverson could not match his shooting performance from the series opener, when he scored a franchise playoff-record 55 points. He made just 11-of-27 shots from the floor and 6-of-12 free throws in this one.

"I (don't want it) to come down to me scoring like I did that night," Iverson said. "I don't think we get anything accomplished as a team on the offensive end. When any guy is going like that, a team is going to give them the ball, but hopefully you have a group effort and it doesn't take one guy to score that many points. That was the case tonight."

The All-Star guard had plenty of help as Derrick Coleman scored 12 points and Eric Snow and Keith Van Horn added 11 apiece.

"It makes it so much easier on me," Iverson said. "It takes a lot of pressure off me on the offensive end. When you get other guys going, you try to ride that wave and wait for the opportunity. It's just as important for them to stay aggressive and assert themselves as much as they can. If they do that, it takes a lot of the attention off of me."

Philadelphia held a 40-31 rebounding advantage and grabbed 14 offensive boards, leading to 17 points. Thomas grabbed seven offensive rebounds and Coleman had three.

Wesley scored 24 points and Robert Pack provided a late spark off the bench with 11 of his 15 in the second half for New Orleans, which hosts Game Three on Saturday.

Jamaal Magloire had 12 points and eight rebounds for the Hornets, who never reclaimed the lead after a dismal second quarter.

Philadelphia had a 29-24 lead early in the period before reeling off eight straight points. Four different players scored during the spurt, including Coleman, whose hook shot gave the Sixers a 37-24 edge with 8:40 left.

Philadelphia displayed excellent scoring balance in the quarter, totaling 24 points on 10-of-20 shooting, despite having no player with more than four points. The Sixers had their largest lead at 43-26 on a follow shot by Thomas with 4:47 left.



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