Magic keep the Answer in check
Penny scores 22, holds Iverson to 13 to even series at 1-1
Posted: Wednesday May 12, 1999 12:51 AM
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- So much for Penny Hardaway's insistence that he couldn't slow down Allen Iverson and flourish offensively at the same time.
Responding to the NBA scoring champion's challenge to "bring it on," the Orlando Magic stormed back into their first-round playoff series with the Philadelphia 76ers with a 79-68 victory Tuesday night.
The Magic held Iverson to 13 points, using aggressive double-teams that disrupted the young 76ers. Hardaway, meanwhile, overcame a point-less first quarter to score 22 as Orlando evened the best-of-5 matchup at one game apiece.
Games 3 and 4 will be played in Philadelphia on Thursday and Saturday.
"It was a test for us. It was put up or shut up. ... He [Iverson] said: 'Bring it on,' and we brought it on," Orlando's Nick Anderson said. "Going into Philly down 2-0 is not something we wanted to do."
Hardaway, playing with partially torn ligaments in his right wrist, scored 10 points during a stretch in which the Magic built a 21-point lead early in the third quarter. The 76ers trimmed their deficit to 59-52 with just under 10 minutes remaining, but couldn't get any closer.
Iverson scored 30 points to pace Philadelphia's 14-point victory in Game 1, but found it much tougher to get his shots Tuesday night. He was limited to five points in the first half and wound up missing 11 of 15 shots.
"If we had any kind of pride, we were going to have to fight them harder. If we're going to win the series, we have to keep the ball out of Iverson's hands," Hardaway said.
The Magic contained the 6-foot Iverson by double-teaming aggressively and bumping, grabbing and pushing him at every opportunity to keep him from moving freely without the ball.
"I felt the physical nature was the same as Game 1," Iverson said, shrugging off the rough play.
"They doubled more. They were doing it as soon as we got past half-court, and that was something I wasn't prepared for ... Nobody's trapped me as much as they did. If I were them, that's what I would do, too."
The Magic also did a better job on two other players who hurt them badly in the opener.
Matt Geiger had 23 points and 10 rebounds -- both career playoff highs -- Sunday, but just seven points and six rebounds this time. George Lynch had six points and three rebounds after having 15 and 12 in Game 1.
After Iverson's outburst in the series opener, Hardaway said he was willing to try to cover the scoring champion one-on-one, a challenge Iverson welcomed. The Magic's four-time All-Star cautioned, however, that his offense might be affected if he spent all night concentrating on Iverson.
Darrell Armstrong wound up covering the 76ers star most of the game, with Hardaway providing help on double-teams. Iverson, meanwhile, suggested too much was being made of his pregame response to Hardaway's interest in guarding him.
"I said Penny Hardaway," Iverson said, referring to the "bring it on" comment. "He said he wanted to guard me one-on-one. But they did what they did the first game. They doubled me. They were just more aggressive."
Nick Anderson scored 13 points for Orlando, while Hardaway made 7 of 15 shots and had seven rebounds, four assists and two steals in 43 minutes. .
Eric Snow and Larry Hughes each scored 12 points for the 76ers. But Geiger was just 3-of-15 from the field and Philadelphia was outrebounded (40-36) for the first time in five games against Orlando this season.
"You can't afford to have Allen take a limited number of shots and not make them, and not have other people step up," said Philadelphia coach Larry Brown, who nevertheless feels good about going home with the series tied.
"I'm thrilled. This is this team's first experience in the playoffs," he added. "I don't want any of them to be discouraged. We'll do better the next game."
To even the series, coach Chuck Daly told his players they not only had to rebound better but that they couldn't let Iverson's teammates beat them either.
The Magic also made it tough for Iverson to move about, bumping him almost every time he crossed the court under the basket without the ball.
After scoring 11 points in the first quarter Sunday, Iverson only had three in the opening period of Game 2. Not only did he have a difficult time scoring, but he only got off seven shots before halftime.
A 9-0 run that began late in the first quarter gave the Magic a double-digit lead. It was 36-27 at the half, and Hardaway scored eight of Orlando's first 12 points in the third quarter to build the lead to 48-31.
The 63 points the teams combined to score in the opening half were an NBA playoff record, breaking the old mark of 66 set by Chicago and Charlotte in 1998.
Notes: The Magic, who've never won a playoff series after losing Game 1, have lost six straight playoff games on the road, dating back to 1996. They were 0-2 at Philadelphia during the regular season ... Philadelphia's first-half point total (27) was the second lowest by one team in an opening half, behind only the 24 Portland scored against Utah on May 5, 1996.
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