Monday, April 21, 2003

Hornets can't stop Iverson


Guard's 55 eclipses old playoff mark

The Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA - Of all the prolific offensive performances in the opening games of this year's NBA playoffs, Allen Iverson's was the best.

Not only that, it was one of the greatest in NBA playoff history

Iverson scored 55 points Sunday night in a brilliant display of shooting, making 21 of 32 shots while eclipsing his previous playoff-high of 54 as the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the New Orleans Hornets 98-90.

Iverson scored 20 in the fourth quarter to help the 76ers hang onto the lead throughout the final 12 minutes of a closely contested, physical game.

Iverson joined Michael Jordan, Rick Barry, Charles Barkley, Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor as the only players to score 55 or more in a playoff game. Jordan holds the NBA record of 63.

Magic 99, Pistons 94

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - Tracy McGrady made the NBA's best defense look bad.

McGrady set a team playoff record with 43 points to help Orlando hold off top-seeded Detroit in Game 1 of their first-round Eastern Conference series.

"This guy is arguably the best player on the planet," Detroit coach Rick Carlisle said. "We know that, and we know he is going to score some points and do some spectacular things."

Six Pistons tried to guard the NBA's leading scorer, who was 15-of-28 from the field and 10-of-12 from the line.

It was a particularly impressive effort considering Detroit allowed opponents just 87.7 points per game this season. No other team's average was under 90.

"I felt like I could get any shot," McGrady said.

Eighth-seeded Orlando led by 11 points with 5:22 left, but Detroit's 14-4 run pulled it to 94-93 with about a minute to go.

"If we play with the same urgency in the first quarter that we had in the fourth, we win this game easy," said Detroit's Ben Wallace, who played 42 minutes after missing two weeks with an injured left knee.

McGrady - whose 32.1-point average this season was the highest of his five-year NBA career - made two free throws with 46.5 seconds left. After Detroit missed two shots in the lane, Orlando's Gordan Giricek added two free throws, and McGrady scored the last point to surpass the Magic playoff scoring record he shared with Penny Hardaway.

Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is Wednesday night in Detroit. The last time the Magic advanced in the playoffs, in 1996, they swept the Pistons in the first round.

Orlando rookie Drew Gooden had 18 points and 14 rebounds. Detroit's Richard Hamilton scored 28 points in his playoff debut. Chauncey Billups scored 21, and Cliff Robinson added 19. Wallace had 13 rebounds, seven points and three blocks.

Chucky Atkins - who like Wallace, joined Detroit in the trade that sent Grant Hill to the Magic - made back-to-back 3-pointers at the end of the third quarter and to start the fourth to cut Detroit's deficit to 76-75.

Lakers 117, Timberwolves 98

MINNEAPOLIS - Just like that, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal and Co. seized home-court advantage from the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Bryant scored 28 of his 39 points in the first half, and O'Neal had 32 points and 10 rebounds to lead the three-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers past the Timberwolves in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.

Kevin Garnett had 23 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists, but he couldn't help the Timberwolves take advantage of the first home-court advantage in their history. Minnesota has been eliminated in the opening round the past six years. Game 2 is Tuesday night in Minneapolis.

The Lakers, who overcame an 11-19 start to finish with 50 wins and grab the No. 5 spot in the Western Conference, were only 19-22 on the road during the regular season. But in the postseason, Los Angeles has won 17 of its last 19 away from Staples Center.

Bryant, who shot 12-of-16 in the first half, dismissed the idea that the Lakers would be vulnerable because they didn't secure the home court in the first round.

"I don't know what the big deal is about playing on the road. I've never seen fans scream loud enough to block my jump shot," he said.

Bryant was active at both ends, helping hold Wally Szczerbiak to 15 points on 5-for-9 shooting. Bryant also was oblivious to whoever guarded him in the first half. After the Lakers scored 39 points in the first period, Bryant went 8-of-9 in the second, most of them long jumpers from the baseline.

At a glance

FIRST ROUND

(Best-of-7)

Saturday

New Jersey 109,

Milwaukee 96,

New Jersey leads series 1-0

Boston 103, Indiana 100, Boston leads series 1-0

Phoenix 96,

San Antonio 95, OT,

Phoenix leads series 1-0

Dallas 96, Portland 86,

Dallas leads series 1-0

Sacramento 96, Utah 90, Sacramento leads series 1-0

Sunday

Orlando 99, Detroit 94,

Orlando leads series 1-0

L.A. Lakers 117, Minn. 98, L.A. Lakers lead series 1-0

Philadelphia 98, New Orleans 90, Philly leads series 1-0

Today's games

Phoenix at San Antonio,

8 p.m. (TNT)

Boston at Indiana,

8:30 p.m. (NBA TV)

Utah at Sacramento,

10:30 p.m. (TNT)

Tuesday

Milwaukee at New Jersey,

7 p.m. (TNT)

L.A. Lakers at Minnesota, 9:30 p.m. (TNT)

Wednesday

New Orleans

at Philadelphia, 7 p.m. (TNT)

Orlando at Detroit,

8 p.m. (NBA TV)

Portland at Dallas,

9:30 p.m. (TNT)

Thursday

Indiana at Boston,

6 p.m. (TNT)

New Jersey at Milwaukee, 8:30 p.m. (TNT)

Minnesota at L.A. Lakers,

11 p.m. (TNT)

Friday

Detroit at Orlando, 8 p.m. (ESPN)

San Antonio at Phoenix,

10 p.m. (NBA TV)

Dallas at Portland,

10:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Saturday

New Jersey at Milwaukee,

5 p.m. (TNT)

Philadelphia at

New Orleans, 7:30 p.m. (TNT)

Sacramento at Utah,

10 p.m. (TNT)




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MORE BASKETBALL
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Hornets can't stop Iverson
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PREP SPORTS
Milan seeks to capitalize on '54 title
Prep schedule

BOSTON MARATHON
Boston Marathon is serious business for 'Old School' star
American women hope to make mark in Boston

HOCKEY
Bolts oust Caps 2-1 in 3OT

GOLF
Love feeling chipper after playoff win

TENNIS
Dementieva outlasts Davenport for first title

PLAN YOUR DAY
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