Iverson goes 7-for-28, misses last shot as Pacers edge Sixers
Posted: Thursday May 20, 1999 01:53 AM
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Appropriately enough, Allen Iverson's long night ended with a short shot.
Iverson shot an airball from 3-point range just before the final buzzer Wednesday night as the Philadelphia 76ers staged another desperate, final-minute rally that wasn't quite enough.
No victory to take back to Philadelphia, just another disappointing loss, 85-82, and a 2-0 deficit against the Indiana Pacers in the best-of-7 second round.
"I thought I would save the day, but I couldn't," Iverson said, summing up both his last shot and his 7-for-28 shooting. "It was just one of those nights. I tried to bring it. But I just couldn't bring my `A' game."
Aside from the performances of Iverson and Rik Smits, this game was much like Monday's Game 1.
The Sixers, who came back from a 13-point deficit in Game 1 and lost by two, rallied from 17 down to within two in the final period thanks to younger legs, an aggressive defense and some poor free throw shooting by the Pacers in the stretch.
A missed foul shot by Jalen Rose with 12 seconds left gave Philadelphia its final opportunity to tie the game.
Out of timeouts and inbounding under their own basket, the Sixers got the ball into Iverson's hands over midcourt, but he passed it to Hughes and the rookie's jumper was long. Matt Geiger tipped the ball back out, and all Iverson could do was manage an awkward, off-target attempt as the buzzer sounded.
"I thought Larry's shot was going in, it was right on line and then I didn't have time to set up. The clock was running out and so I just threw it up there," Iverson said.
"We're making them very interesting in the end," Indiana's Reggie Miller said. "They are hanging in and making plays down the stretch and it's coming down to our free throws.
"We tried to force Allen into situations he's not really comfortable with. He just missed a lot of easy shots. At the end he was a little off-balance. He didn't have much time and it was more of a desperation shot."
Indiana's Rik Smits finally found his offense for the Pacers, scoring 25 points. Iverson led the Sixers with 23 -- 13 in the final period.
"It's pretty disturbing that we blew big leads two games in a row," Smits said. "We seem to play well in the first half and somehow the tone changes and we're able to let things slip away."
Iverson, who scored 35 in Game 1 and entered Game 2 averaging 29.6 points in the playoffs, had trouble with his shot all night no matter how quickly he raced around picks to get open.
"I've gotten the praise when we play well, I'll take the criticism when we play badly," Iverson said. "We can beat this team."
Indiana's biggest lead in the fourth quarter was eight points, the last time at 81-73 with 55 seconds left before the Sixers made their final run.
George Lynch, whose shot was blocked by Indiana's Dale Davis with two minutes left -- sending 76ers coach Larry Brown off the bench screaming for a goaltending call -- made Philadelphia's first 3-pointer of the night to make it 83-80 with 23.5 left.
After Derrick McKey made one of two free throws, Geiger's shot was goaltended to make it 84-82 with 12 seconds to go.
With a chance to restore the lead to four, Jalen Rose missed the first and then made the second of two free throws to give the Sixers their last chance.
Miller finished with 17 points as Indiana's only other double-figure scorer.
Geiger had 18 points and 11 rebounds for Philadelphia.
Smits, who was 12-of-23 from the field, struggled in the opening series against Milwaukee, managing just 22 points total in the three-game sweep. After a 12-point performance in Game 1 when he missed 10 of 16 shots, he came out looking for his shot.
He scored 10 first-quarter points as the Pacers took a 10-point lead, a cushion built with an 8-2 advantage on the offensive boards.
Smits' three-point play and Rose's layup after yet another Pacer offensive rebound - they had a 13-5 advantage at the half - pushed the lead to 17. The Pacers led 45-32 at the half.
Notes: Larry Bird, whose greatness was measured by his scoring, passing and rebounding, likes the way Iverson mixes his game. "He's unselfish and he will make the play. He looks to score if he has the chance but if there is another play, he will make it," Bird said. ... Sixers coach Larry Brown is still one victory shy of tying Milwaukee's George Karl for 18th on all-time NBA playoff wins. Brown is 44-45 in the playoffs. ... The last two times the Sixers made the Eastern Conference semifinals in 1990 and 1991 they dropped the first two games on the road, captured Game 3 at home and then lost the next two. ...The Pacers have won 12 straight playoff games at Market Square Arena.
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