Iguodala Stifles Bryant, Sixers Edge Lakers
Philadelphia 85, L.A. Lakers 81
PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 11 (Ticker) -- Andre Iguodala played remarkable defense on Kobe Bryant. His teammates finally joined him in the fourth quarter.
Iguodala limited Bryant to 7-of-27 shooting and the Philadelphia 76ers scrambled for their third straight win, an 85-81 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
A native of Philadelphia, Bryant came in averaging nearly 35 points per game, tops in the NBA. The acrobatic superstar presented a phenomenal challenge for Iguodala, a second-year swingman who is making a name for himself as a defender.
"He (Bryant) is one of the best players in the league. He is the leading scorer in the league," Iverson said. "When a guy like that misses 20 shots, that says a lot about Andre. Instead of playing like a two-year guy, he played like a 10-year veteran.
"That is something that we expect from Andre. As crazy as it may seem, we just believe in him. We know that he has the ability to shut people down and this was just another in the book for him."
The athletic Iguodala seemed to ignore his offense to concentrate on Bryant, who missed his first seven shots and did not get much better. He also committed three turnovers and seemed frustrated at times.
"That was my main focus, to try to keep the ball out of his hands as much as possible and make other guys make plays," Iguodala said. "I got my hands on a few balls and got some deflections here and there and it just started to happen everywhere. Our defense just came together."
"Andre obviously did a great job in forcing me into tough situations," Bryant said. "He's a very athletic defender. They did a great job collapsing and forcing me into taking very difficult shots."
But while Iguodala was containing Bryant, his teammates were allowing other Lakers to get loose. Chris Mihm had 20 points and nine rebounds and Lamar Odom added 16 and 12 as they repeatedly beat Philadelphia's big men around the hoop.
"I wouldn't say that our defense was horrible, it's just that we weren't on the same page," Iguodala said. "We all understand what it takes for us to get wins when the game is close. In the fourth quarter, we all played team defense."
The Lakers took a 69-62 lead into the fourth quarter before the Sixers tightened the screws, allowing just two points over the next eight minutes and surging to a 78-71 lead. Iguodala even got into the act with a free throw and jumper.
"They did a good job of bearing down defensively," Mihm said. "They got some key steals and turnovers from us and that led to three of four easy baskets in a row. A seven- or eight-point lead that we had disappeared in a span of 20 or 30 seconds."
A 3-pointer by John Salmons kept the lead at 81-76 with 1:32 remaining. Bryant, who was scoreless in the quarter to that point, responded with a driving three-point play and a leaner in the lane that tied it with 37 seconds left.
Iverson, who scored 34 points, drained an 18-footer on the next possession, a broken play.
"It was supposed to be just a pick-and-roll," Iverson said. "They got the ball out of my hands and they were looking for Kyle (Korver) on the weak side. They shut that down. They played solid defense. Once they made one (defensive) breakdown, they left me open and I got a good look at it."
Iguodala broke up a handoff attempt to Bryant, whose 3-pointer bounced off the rim before Iverson sealed it with two free throws with 4.3 seconds to go.
"I was going to see the defense to see if I had an open look," Bryant said. "My balance was off when I shot it. Those are the type of shots that you kick yourself for because you know that if you square up and get your balance, you'll knock it down. It just didn't happen for me."
"He came off the double-down screen and he stepped to the 3-point line," Iguodala said. "I had no clue that he was going to shoot the three so quickly. I just tried to get a hand up."
Bryant totaled 17 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. As usual, he was booed throughout the game by the fans at the Wachovia Center, who have never forgiven him for saying during the 2001 NBA Finals that he wanted to "rip Philadelphia's heart out."
"You got to stick to the script and that's what I did," Bryant said. "I'm not going to shoot the ball great every night and tonight was one of them."
Korver scored 14 points, and Salmons added 12 and eight rebounds for the Sixers, who have beaten the Lakers in six straight home meetings and three straight overall.
In the first quarter, Iverson fended off a steal attempt with an elbow to the mouth of Lakers reserve guard Sasha Vujacic that drew blood. Early in the final period, Vujacic gave a hard foul on Iverson, who charged at him and had to be restrained by Iguodala. Both guards received technical fouls.
Despite Bryant's struggles, he got loose in the third quarter for a jumper that beat the shot clock and a three-point play that gave the Lakers their largest lead at 61-50.
"I think that he (Bryant) was a little passive in the first half," Iguodala said. "He was letting it come to him and in the second half, he took a little bit more shots."
Philadelphia native Joey Crawford refereed his 2,000th NBA game.