MILWAUKEE, May 28 (AP) --
Bloody from an elbow to the mouth, Allen Iverson
swallowed hard and finished off the Bucks.
|Robinson takes the jumper over Mutombo.|
Jeff Hanisch/NBAE Photos
Scoring 11 of his team's final 13 points, including seven in a row after he was hit in the mouth by Ray Allen
, Iverson was the MVP of the fourth quarter Monday as the Philadelphia 76ers beat Milwaukee 89-83 to tie the Eastern Conference finals at two games apiece.
"I didn't think the refs were going to let me back in the game because I was spitting up so much blood. I was trying to stop the bleeding but it wouldn't stop, so I kept my mouth closed and swallowed the blood when it filled up," he said.
Iverson's latest effort was more Draculian than Herculean, typifying how the 76ers showed a sense of urgency and desperation that the Bucks were sorely lacking.
Philadelphia also got big contributions from Dikembe Mutombo
and Tyrone Hill
while shutting down Milwaukee's offense over the final eight minutes.
Iverson, who sat out Game 3 with a sore left hip joint, missed 10 straight shots at one point and finished 10-for-32 from the field for 28 points. But he did enough in the fourth quarter to make his early shooting woes insignificant.
"As bad as my butt was hurting, I knew if I could suck that up I could suck this up," Iverson said.
The 76ers held the Bucks to just one basket over a nearly seven-minute stretch of the final quarter and won going away.
Milwaukee fans booed the home team as they left the court, frustrated by yet another display of the Bucks playing poorly right when they had a chance to take control of a playoff series.
Philadelphia's victory ensured that the NBA Finals will not start until June 6 -- meaning the Western Conference champion Los Angeles Lakers will have had 10 days between games.
Of much more immediate importance is the outcome of this series, which is now essentially a best-of-three. Game 5 is Wednesday night at Philadelphia.
"All this game shows is that the two teams are pretty equal and it's going to be a great series," Bucks coach George Karl said.
Iverson played the entire game except for the final 16 seconds of the third quarter and had eight assists, five rebounds and two steals. Mutombo had 17 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks, and Hill -- whose father is seriously ill in a Cincinnati hospital -- added 14 points.
It was clear right from the outset that Iverson had his quickness back as he looked nothing like the player who moved through Game 2 at half-speed. Sprinting and accelerating like the Iverson of old, he was able to start and stop on a dime and use his crossover dribble and quick first step to lose one-on-one defenders.
Iverson showed off his speed on one of the key plays of the game, a drive around Glenn Robinson
for a running bank shot with 3:06 left that gave the Sixers an 80-75 lead. Allen missed a jumper on Milwaukee's next possession, and Iverson then drew three defenders as he drove the lane.
The Sixers swung the ball to Eric Snow
for a corner jumper that made it 82-75 with 2:18 left.
Iverson got elbowed in the mouth by Allen on Milwaukee's next possession, staying down on the ground as Ervin Johnson
scored to make it a five-point game.
"It loosened his right front tooth. It bled quite a bit initially," 76ers trainer Lenny Currier said.
The Bucks had a chance to get closer, but they passed up two open shots and turned the ball over. Snow's steal led to a fast-break layup by Iverson for an 84-77 lead with 1:07 left, and he shook his head at the crowd as Milwaukee called a timeout.
Robinson, who led the Bucks with 20 points, was ejected for drawing two technicals with 58 seconds left. Iverson made both technical foul shots for an 87-77 lead.
"It took a lot out of me," Iverson said. "Coming into the game I knew I'd feel bad after, but my heart feels good right now and that's what's important."
Although Iverson had a turnover on his first touch and missed his first two shots, he was moving easily. He made a quick move along the baseline for a layup that gave Philadelphia a 20-14 lead.
had two 3-pointers as the Bucks used a 14-0 run to take a 40-33 lead, but Philadelphia answered with a 7-0 run to prevent Milwaukee from taking that momentum into the locker room at halftime.
Iverson hit his first shot of the third quarter and had assists on consecutive shots by Aaron McKie
and Jumaine Jones
, allowing the Sixers to open a small lead that they maintained throughout the third quarter.
McKie opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer to make it 72-62, but just when it looked like the Sixers had taken the crowd out of the game, Allen hit a lane jumper and 3-pointer to start a 9-0 run that pulled the Bucks within one.
Mutombo dunked a miss and Iverson darted through traffic for a layup that gave the Sixers a 78-73 lead heading into the final 5 minutes, and the Bucks failed to score on five of their next six possessions.
Allen and McKie picked up a double foul for getting too physical with each other late in the second quarter. Thomas and Philadelphia's Raja Bell
drew double technicals for shoving each other at the end of the third quarter. ... McKie, who shot 0-for-5 in the first half, finished with 11 points, nine assists and three 3-pointers. ... Thomas was Milwaukee's second-leading scorer with 15 points. Allen and Sam Cassell
had 14 apiece.