Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Six Sixers in double figures sting Hornets

The Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS - The Philadelphia 76ers didn't need a heroic effort from Allen Iverson to regain command of their playoff series with the New Orleans Hornets.

Iverson's 22 points on 9-of-28 shooting Monday night were his lowest total in the series. But five other Sixers scored in double figures in a 96-87 victory that gave Philadelphia a 3-1 series lead, with Game 5 in Philadelphia on Wednesday night.

"As bad as I was struggling out there, it makes me feel good to win game like this," Iverson said. "That I can play so badly and my teammates play so well, it gives me confidence that I know when I'm struggling we've still got a shot to win."

The balanced scoring and rebounding effort by the Sixers spoiled a 34-point performance by Baron Davis, who overcame an ailing left knee for a second straight game.

Davis, visibly disgusted after the game, didn't single out anyone, but seemed most frustrated with the Hornets inside players losing the rebounding advantage they established in a Game 3 victory.

"We got outhustled. We got outmuscled. We didn't come to play," he said.

Philadelphia redeemed itself on the boards. Although Kenny Thomas' eight rebounds were a team high, the Sixers outrebounded the Hornets as a team 43-38, two nights after being embarrassed 51-33. The Sixers also improved their offensive rebounding total from six to 17.

"We didn't do much different than we did in Game 3, but we rebounded better," 76ers coach Larry Brown said. "We didn't match their intensity in Game 3, but tonight we matched their effort. We made so many hustle plays late in the game. There were so many guys that I think as a coach you can say they made bigtime plays to help us win."

Eric Snow had 17 points and 12 assists for Philadelphia, while Keith Van Horn scored 13 points for the Sixers, while Thomas, Derrick Coleman and Aaron McKie each scored 11.

McKie's final bucket, a 3-pointer with 2:45 left, sealed the game, giving Philadelphia a 94-82 lead. Iverson found McKie wide open in the corner for the basket and started yelling, "Yeah, yeah," before the ball had even left McKie's hands.

Although the Hornets were within striking distance well into the fourth quarter, Philadelphia always found a way to reverse the momentum. It never lost the lead after Iverson gave the Sixers a 19-18 lead with a one-handed floater off the glass.

New Orleans had its deficit down to 81-80 after David Wesley followed P.J. Brown's jumper with a 3-pointer.

But the Sixers came back with a 6-0 run on a jumper by Snow, a dunk by Coleman and a long jump shot by Iverson as he fell backward.

"What you want to do during that time is make sure to get a good shot, which gives you a chance to rebound and a chance to get back on defense so they don't get an easy opportunity," Snow said. "That's playoff basketball. It becomes a possession game."

Wesley finished with 12 points for New Orleans, while P. J. Brown had 11 points and nine rebounds. Center Jamaal Magloire, who had 18 points and nine assists on Saturday, was limited to seven points and eight rebounds.

Philadelphia scored six quick points to start the game, but by midway through the quarter the Sixers were 2-for-15 from the field as the Hornets ran to a 13-6 lead. Iverson missed his first five shots while Davis hit his first three.

When the 76ers settled down, however, they couldn't miss. Iverson hit his next two shots and the Sixers their next seven as part of a 13-2 run that put Philadelphia back ahead 23-18.

The Sixers opened a 51-37 lead in the second period, thanks in part to the Hornets being over the limit in team fouls with 4:24 to go in the half. McKie hit a jumper, a 3-pointer and a free throw in succession to close out a 10-0 run.

The lead was trimmed to 52-45 at halftime only because Davis closed the period with a pair of free throws and a two 3s, giving him 24 points for the half.

New Orleans coach Paul Silas said the Hornets would have been blown out without Davis, who has played the last two games with a bone bruise in his left knee that affects his lateral movement and leaping. "We're going to battle. Laying down is not in our vocabulary," Silas said. "I told the guys if you don't think we can win, then stay home. I expect us to play and play well at Philadelphia."

Kings 99, Jazz 82

SALT LAKE CITY - If it was goodbye for Utah's John Stockton and Karl Malone, the Sacramento Kings made sure it wasn't a happy one.

Peja Stojakovic scored 15 of his 27 points in the third quarter and Chris Webber had 26 points and 11 rebounds as the Kings turned a four-point halftime deficit into a 99-82 win over the Jazz on Monday night.

Sacramento leads the series 3-1 and can clinch it at home Wednesday night in Game 5.

The Kings could be last team to beat Stockton and Malone in Salt Lake City if the 41-year-old Stockton retires and Malone leaves as a free agent. Both Stockton and Malone will decide their futures when the season ends, which will be soon if the Jazz can't pull an upset in Sacramento.

"We'd love to play what may be the last game against Stockton and Malone as a tandem. We would love to be a part of that," Webber said. "That's something you'd love to tell your kids about."

Malone led the Jazz with 24 points and Stockton had 12 points and seven assists. Neither wanted to talk much about the future after the game.

"You can say that any time you go out on the floor: 'That could be the last one."' Stockton said. "You've got to play it like it's your last one. As for the rest, I guess we'll all decide that at the end, but we're sure not putting any thought into it until then."

Stockton left the game quietly during a timeout. Malone got a standing ovation from what was left of the sellout crowd of 19,911 when he was pulled with 2:25 left.

"We've played a long time together," Malone said. "Hopefully the fans have appreciated what we've tried to do for this organization and for them."

Two days after a gritty win got them back into the series, the older and slower Jazz couldn't keep up with the Kings in the second half. The Jazz are on the verge of getting knocked out of the playoffs by the Kings for the second straight year.

"They have beat us this year and we can't relax. You have to play the same kind of game in Sacramento that we played in the second half tonight," Sacramento coach Rick Adelman said. "You have to win four games and then it's over."

Sacramento was just 17-for-50 from the field in the first half and trailed 41-37 despite causing 14 turnovers. But the Kings started hitting shots from everywhere in the third quarter and quickly turned the game into a runaway.

"They were giving us the ball and we didn't score off it, so in the third quarter we tried to pick it up a bit," said Sacramento's Mike Bibby, who scored nine of his 11 points in the second half. "Thirty-seven points at halftime. That's not us."

Stojakovic hit his second straight 3-pointer to tie the game at 47, then put back his own offensive rebound to give the Kings their first lead since late in the first quarter. The Jazz struggled with just three field goals in the first 71/2 minutes of the third quarter as the Kings began to pull away.

The Jazz got to 59-57 on two free throws by Malone with 3:10 left in the third period, then the Kings went on a 14-2 run to close the quarter. Sacramento was 15-for-25 from the floor in the period, getting a few easy layups off fast breaks and three 3-pointers from Stojakovic. The Kings didn't allow the Jazz to get closer than nine the rest of the way.

Jim Jackson scored 10 for the Kings.

Matt Harpring scored 18 points and Andrei Kirilenko finished with 15 for the Jazz. Greg Ostertag had 14 rebounds for Utah, which has been knocked out of the playoffs in the first round the last two seasons.


• Lakers forward Rick Fox will miss the rest of the postseason with a torn tendon in his left foot that will require surgery.

• Sacramento guard Bobby Jackson was fined $7,500 by the NBA for publicly criticizing the officials after Saturday's loss.

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