NEW ORLEANS, April 28 (Ticker) --
One nightmarish fourth quarter was
enough for Allen Iverson
and the Philadelphia 76ers.
NBA TV highlights from|
Nestle Crunch Time: Eric Snow
Dunk of the Night:
Iverson scored 22 points as the 76ers played a virtually
flawless fourth quarter en route to a 96-87 victory over the New
Orleans Hornets and a 3-1 lead in their Eastern Conference
In Game Three, Philadelphia trailed by two points early in the
final period before the Hornets scored 15 in a row. During the
decisive quarter, the Sixers committed six of their 16
turnovers, leading to 11 points for New Orleans.
Game Four was a different story as Philadelphia was almost
perfect in the fourth quarter, particularly whenever the Hornets
tried to rally.
"The last game, they outhustled us," Iverson said. "They're one
of the biggest teams, I've ever faced and that's why it was
hard for me at times to get in there. We just tried to
outhustle them tonight."
"It was just a completely different quarter for us," Sixers
forward Keith Van Horn
added. "We were the more aggressive
team. That's the team we have to be in order to win this
series, especially late in the fourth quarter, when it's
gut-check time. That's when you win basketball games."
A 3-pointer by David Wesley
with 6:36 remaining got New Orleans
But Philadelphia took control with an 13-2 burst, building a
94-82 lead with 2:50 remaining. Iverson, who had missed 11 of
his previous 12 shots, made a pair of big baskets during the
spurt and helped on the defensive end as the 76ers held the
Hornets without a basket for nearly six minutes.
When Iverson found Aaron McKie
for an open jumper that finished
off the Hornets, he started yelling, `Yeah, Yeah' before the
ball left McKie's hands.
"We knew going down the stretch that this was just going to
become an energy game," Philadelphia guard Eric Snow
weathered the storm and got some stops, then we ran some plays
and we got some big offensive rebounds ourselves."
While Iverson was struggling to make a shot, his supporting cast
prevented New Orleans from getting over the hump. The 76ers
took a 74-66 lead into the final quarter, but the Hornets were
within 77-73 following a driving layup by Baron Davis
Van Horn scored Philadelphia's first seven points of the period
to maintain the lead. New Orleans hung around, cashing in on
turnovers by former Hornet Derrick Coleman
, McKie and Iverson
to make it a one-point game.
But Iverson found Snow for a mid-range jumper and Coleman
converted P.J. Brown's
turnover into a dunk for an 85-80
advantage with 5:36 remaining.
Iverson got his first basket since ending the third quarter
layup, putting Philadelphia up, 87-80, with 4:41 remaining.
The 22 points marked Iverson's lowest total in the series as he
made just 9-of-28 shots. He scored a team playoff-record 55
points in the series opener and averaged 37.3 points in the
first three games.
Philadelphia made up the slack with balanced scoring and solid
rebounding. Six players scored in double figures, the Sixers
outrebounded the Hornets, 43-38, and turned 20 turnovers into 23
"As bad as I was struggling out there, it just makes you feel
good to win a game like this, being that I can play so bad and
my teammates can play so well," Iverson said. "It gives me that
confidence going into any game. When I'm struggling, I know
we've still a shot to win the game because I've got guys in a
foxhole with me."
Davis scored a playoff career-high 34 points for the Hornets,
who again were without Jamal Mashburn
. New Orleans' leading
scorer could miss the rest of the series with a dislocated right
Game Five is Wednesday at Philadelphia.
"Being up 3-1 feels good," Snow said. "We want to come out and
end the series in the next game. There's no tomorrow for them.
We have to approach it with the same focus and intensity that
they are going to have."
"We have to go up there and win the next game," New Orleans
coach Paul Silas said. "We're going to battle. Laying down is
not in our vocabulary."
The Sixers shot 42.5 percent (34-of-80), despite missing 13 of
their first 15 attempts. They made seven straight baskets,
triggering a 19-7 run over the final 5:09 of the opening quarter
that turned a seven-point deficit into a 25-20 lead.
"They were more active on the boards and we didn't meet their
intensity," Hornets forward P.J. Brown said. "They had
everybody coming and we didn't have everybody coming. To win,
we have to duplicate what we did on Saturday."
Philadelphia used another big run late in the half, outscoring
the Hornets, 14-2, to take a 51-37 advantage with 97 seconds
left. But Davis scored New Orleans' final 10 points to slice
the halftime deficit to 52-45.
Snow had 17 points and 12 assists, Van Horn scored 13 points and
, Coleman and McKie added 11 apiece.
Without Mashburn, Davis had little help. He made 12-of-19
shots, but the rest of the Hornets clicked at under 36 percent