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Philadelphia's Iverson answers Pacers' fans

76ers guard nets 32 to silence hecklers

Posted: Sunday, April 29, 2001

INDIANAPOLIS -- Allen Iverson loves the team whose fans seem to hate him most.

Iverson had 32 points and the Philadelphia 76ers silenced the Indiana hecklers by scoring their final 10 points on free throws to beat the Pacers 92-87 on Saturday to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five Eastern Conference first-found series.

Game 4 is in Indianapolis Wednesday night.

''Anybody can give up, but the team that beat us two years in a row isn't going to give up,'' Iverson said. ''This whole series is something I'll cherish, because this team brings out a lot in Allen Iverson. This team helps me be a better player than I already am.''

The Pacers, who eliminated the 76ers from the playoffs each of the past two years, erased a 15-point deficit and tied the game 82-82 with less than three minutes to go on a 3-pointer by Reggie Miller, who led all scorers with 35 points.

The Pacers had a chance to take the lead after George Lynch missed two free throws. But Miller missed a shot and Al Harrington fouled Dikembe Mutombo, whose two free throws started the 76ers' parade to the foul line. Iverson had three free throws, Aaron McKie and Tyrone Hill had two apiece and Eric Snow one.

''It was hard,'' Iverson said. ''If they would have made a couple more shots, it might have been a different outcome. ... We stopped playing the way we were playing.''

Philadelphia did not get a field goal in the final five minutes.

''It's a shame when you play good defense and stop teams from scoring and you don't let them get field goals and they beat you from the foul line,'' Pacers coach Isiah Thomas said. ''We were able to get back with a very small team, and they got to the free throw line. There's nothing you can do about that. But you've got to give them credit, because they were able to get to the line.''

Philadelphia led 45-41 at halftime. After a tie at 49, baskets by Snow and Iverson put the 76ers ahead until the Pacers' late run in the fourth quarter. Iverson had six points during a 17-4 run that gave Philadelphia its biggest lead at 70-55.

''I got a couple one-on-one plays in the third quarter and took advantage of it,'' Iverson said. ''Then they started doubling again and I started looking for Aaron and Eric. That's the thing. That's been important in this series, because if they're going to double I have to believe in my teammates.''

Pacers fans behind the 76ers bench were generally well-behaved, and so was Iverson. The star guard was fined $5,000 by the NBA for shouting a derogatory remark about gays to hecklers the last time he played in Indianapolis.

This time, aside from a chorus of boos for Iverson during introductions, the most heated anger was directed at Matt Geiger. He received a technical after a hard foul on Travis Best in the second quarter.

Mavericks 94, Jazz 91

DALLAS -- Steve Nash hit a go-ahead turnaround jumper with 22.7 seconds left and Michael Finley added two free throws and the Dallas Mavericks pulled out a win over the Utah Jazz to avoid a first-round NBA playoffs sweep.

Playing their first home playoff game in 11 years, the Mavericks won in the postseason for the first time since June 2, 1988. Saturday's victory was sealed when Nash chased down the rebound of a wild 3-pointer missed by John Stockton.

Utah leads the best-of-five series 2-1. Game 4 will be Tuesday night in Dallas.

Stockton led a rally that turned an 11-point deficit early in the fourth into a 91-90 Jazz lead on his layup with 34 seconds left -- Utah's first edge in the game since 18-16.

Dirk Nowitzki scored 33 points for Dallas, while Utah's Karl Malone, who had 29 points, 13 rebounds and six assists, missed two layups in the final two minutes that could have given him 3-point plays to tie the game.

Timberwolves 93, Spurs 84

MINNEAPOLIS -- Kevin Garnett scored 22 points and Terrell Brandon added 21 as Minnesota got Tim Duncan in foul trouble and beat San Antonio to extend their playoff series.

Game 4 is Monday night in Minneapolis, with the Spurs holding a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five first-round series.

Duncan had 15 points and 10 rebounds in 29 minutes, sitting out a chunk of the fourth quarter with five fouls. He avoided fouling out for what would have been only the seventh time in his four-year, 317-game career, including the playoffs.

David Robinson had 22 points and 17 rebounds for the Spurs.

Magic 121, Bucks 116, OT

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Tracy McGrady collected the NBA's Most Improved Player Award, then went out and showed why he deserved it.

McGrady had 42 points -- 21 in the fourth quarter and overtime -- as the Magic finally beat the Milwaukee Bucks, winning 121-116 Saturday night to stay alive in their playoff series.

''Right now, I'm so tired,'' said McGrady, who tied Orlando's playoff scoring record and added 10 assists and eight rebounds. ''Fifty playoff minutes is a different sort of minutes. But it was either do or die.''

Game 4 in the best-of-five series is Tuesday in Orlando.

The Magic had lost 11 straight games against Milwaukee.

''We finally got that big gorilla off our backs,'' Orlando coach Doc Rivers said. ''Now that we've beaten them, we know we can.''

Ray Allen scored 27 points, Sam Cassell had 21 points and a career-high 16 rebounds, and reserve Tim Thomas scored 18 for Milwaukee, which won the first two games of the series at home.

''We probably thought it was going to be easier that it was,'' Milwaukee coach George Karl said. ''I thought we took this game with a degree of complacency.''

The Magic pulled out the victory after letting a 14-point lead slip away in the last five minutes of regulation.

Allen blamed ''greedy basketball'' for his team's deficit but said he was proud of the comeback.

''We started moving the ball, we started creating a defensive game out there for us and we started playing like we played all year,'' said Allen, who sent the game into overtime on a thundering dunk over McGrady with 3.5 seconds left in regulation. ''We were ready to turn it around but unfortunately it wasn't enough.''

Orlando finally found McGrady some offensive help, with Darrell Armstrong scoring 18 points and Pat Garrity 16.

''We talked about needing a hero today,'' Rivers said. ''We have several of them.''

The Magic appeared to have the game in hand leading 101-87 with 4:58 remaining, but Milwaukee rallied behind Allen and Glenn Robinson, held in check by McGrady most of the series.

Robinson's jumper with 35.7 seconds left gave the Bucks a 108-107 lead. Robinson had all seven of his fourth-quarter points in the final 2:15, and finished with 14.

McGrady's three-point play put the Magic ahead 110-108. Allen then tied it by driving past Armstrong and dunking over McGrady.

In overtime, McGrady capped off a 6-0 run with a leaner and a layin for a 119-114 lead with a minute to go.

McGrady shot 14-for-32 from the field and 14-for-18 on free throws to tie Penny Hardaway's franchise playoff scoring record, set against Miami in a 1997 first-round game.

Armstrong, who won the honor two years ago, presented McGrady with the Most Improved Player Award before the game.

Milwaukee had a chance to tie with less than five seconds remaining in the extra period, but Thomas missed a 3-pointer, and the Magic came up with the rebound.

Armstrong, who seemed to be recovered from a strained groin that's plagued him the last half of the season, then sealed the victory with a pair of free throws.

There was a chaotic moment midway through the third quarter.

Bo Outlaw and Scott Williams got tangled up going after a loose ball near the Magic bench, and then Cassell bumped Outlaw. Armstrong and Williams began to tangle, then McGrady and Robinson started jawing at each other.

No punches were thrown, but all six players were hit with technical fouls.

Starting with the next possession, Garrity briefly took over the game with 12 straight points as the Magic went from trailing by three to leading 69-63 with 3:51 left in the period.

The run started when Garrity was fouled on a 3-point attempt, and his free throws tied the game at 60.

He followed by making three straight 3-pointers, the last coming after he accidentally undercut Thomas, who fell hard to the floor. Thomas didn't move during the Bucks' ensuing timeout, but he got to his feet and jogged to the bench.

Orlando eventually went ahead 89-78 with 8:48 left on Dee Brown's 3-pointer. Nine of Brown's 12 points came in the fourth quarter.

Notes: The Bucks closed the first half on a 13-3 run to lead 50-44 at the break. ... Milwaukee last swept a playoff series in 1988, eliminating New Jersey in the first round. ... Orlando has only been swept in the first round once, in 1994 against Indiana.



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