NEW ORLEANS, May 2 (Ticker) -- Allen Iverson
finished off the first
round the same way he started it.
Iverson scored 45 points, including a pair of clutch baskets in
the final two minutes, to lift the Philadelphia 76ers to a
107-103 victory over the New Orleans Hornets and into the
Eastern Conference semifinals.
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The fourth-seeded 76ers wrapped up the series in six games and
await the winner of the series between Orlando and Detroit.
"To come back and win on the road after a disappointing fifth
game, it really shows the character of this team," 76ers coach
Larry Brown said. "It's pretty amazing."
A three-time scoring champion, Iverson began and ended the
series with offensive explosions. He scored a team
playoff-record 55 points in Game One and - after making just
41-of-109 shots in the middle four games - took charge once
Iverson scored 15 points in the fourth quarter. After two free
throws by Eric Snow
pulled Philadelphia into a 101-101 tie with
2:29 remaining, Iverson drilled a 21-footer from the left corner
to give the Sixers the lead for good with 1:44 to go.
The teams traded empty possessions, but Keith Van Horn
key offensive rebound, and the Sixers again went to Iverson.
From the top of the key, he lost control of his dribble,
regained it, headfaked Baron Davis
and elevated for a
straightaway banker that silenced raucous New Orleans Arena with
10 seconds left.
"I got trapped," Iverson said. "I knew that Baron knew that I
was going to shoot the ball. That's why I pump-faked him. I'm
not one that usually pump-fakes the basketball, because
sometimes I think my ego gets in the way. My teammates tell me I
should pump-fake sometimes because people know that I won't do
it. So on that play, I put my ego aside for that play and
pump-faked him and got him off his feet. And I was able to get a
clean look. I didn't call glass, but it went in, so what the
"That shot Iverson hit at the end was a miraculous shot - a bank
shot from dead on," Hornets coach Paul Silas said. "A big-time
player stepped up."
Davis made a layup with 3.9 seconds to play, but Iverson was
fouled with 2.6 seconds remaining and made both free throws to
seal Philadelphia's fourth trip to the conference semifinals in
the last five years.
"I don't know if too many teams can play as physical as these
guys (Hornets) can," Iverson said. "This was a war. This
reminded me of the wars back with the Indiana Pacers when we
couldn't beat them, and then when we were finally able to beat
them, it was still a war. We still had to fight."
Iverson made 14-of-30 shots, including four 3-pointers, and
13-of-18 free throws. It was his 10th career playoff game of 40
points or more.
Despite Iverson's outburst, the Sixers could not have won
without the contributions of Van Horn and Monty Williams, a pair
of maligned players.
Van Horn, who had played passively at times in the series,
collected 18 points and a playoff career-high 18 rebounds as he
showed aggression on both ends.
"My focus coming in tonight was the long rebounds," Van Horn
said. "I was focusing on the boards. Basically, that's what
hurt us the last game. We got every key rebound tonight."
"I told the guys in the locker room to give him a standing
ovation," Brown said. "To have the kind of game he had tonight,
I'm proud of him. He has to feel good about himself."
Williams, who was sidelined for much of the season with knee
ailments, played solid defense in the fourth quarter on Jamal
Mashburn, who scored a playoff career-high 36 points but just
three in the last 10 minutes.
"I didn't shut him down," Williams said. "I was trying to stay
on his left shoulder so he'd have to go right. I know he likes
to come back and shoot off his right shoulder. So I just tried
to stay on one side of him."
Davis had 21 points and 11 assists for the Hornets, who still
never have won a best-of-seven series, falling to 0-5.
Mashburn scored 21 points in the third quarter and the first
basket of the final period, helping New Orleans open a 90-83
lead. But two free throws and a 3-pointer by Iverson gave
Philadelphia a 94-93 edge with 7:18 left.
That was the first of five straight lead changes. Snow's steal
and layup gave the Sixers a 98-97 lead, but a free throw by P.J.
pulled the Hornets into a tie and Davis buried a
3-pointer for a 101-98 lead at the 3:54 mark.
Former Hornet Derrick Coleman
scored 16 points for the Sixers,
who shot 46 percent (37-of-80), held a 44-39 edge on the glass
and made 26-of-32 free throws.
scored 19 points before fouling out for the
Hornets, who shot 49 percent (41-of-83) and made 14-of-23 foul
"Every free throw that you take is crucial," Brown said. "It's
a lot of missed free throws for a playoff game."
New Orleans used a 13-0 run to sprint to a 15-2 lead. Iverson
rallied Philadelphia with 14 points in the remainder of the
period, cutting the deficit to 31-25.
A lob from Davis to Jerome Moiso
resulted in a dunk and a 51-39
lead with 2:49 left in the first half. Iverson's steal and
layup beat the buzzer and capped an 11-4 surge that made it
55-52 at halftime.
"I just shot up there real fast, the ball was right there, and I
was able to take it and put it in," Iverson said. "And that
gave us some momentum going into halftime."
Coleman scored nine points early in the third quarter as the
Sixers opened a 63-58 lead before Mashburn took over.
"The guy has a broken finger and he was not going to be denied
tonight," Silas said. "He kept us in there when we needed it."
"I was just hoping his arms would get tired," Brown said. "He
was making everything, and they were tough."