Work in Sports
Sixers take Game 1, then fight among themselves
Posted: Sunday April 23, 2000 02:05 AM
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Allen Iverson was unstoppable, beating up the Charlotte Hornets on the court and then blasting his own organization afterward.
Iverson scored a career playoff-high 40 points Saturday night, getting 15 of them in a seven-minute burst after Eddie Jones picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter, and the Philadelphia 76ers beat Charlotte 92-82 in Game 1 of their playoff series.
After the game, Iverson ripped general manager Billy King for his comments to a Charlotte newspaper that there has to be some "soul-searching" from both Iverson and team management for the team to be successful.
"I really don't think I'm the leader on this team; I don't think I'm a franchise player at all," Iverson said. "I've heard stories about other franchise players and how they're treated, and I don't get treated nowhere near a franchise player. I'm treated like the 12th player on the bench, believe it or not.
"To hear my general manager say I'm not sure the marriage is going to work, it's time to start feeling that way. It's tough to hear that from your general manager."
Iverson even mentioned the possibility of "something Happening" over the summer, and hinted that his one-game suspension for missing a shootaround in Miami might have cost his team the home-court advantage.
He said he was making his comments at such a strange time "because I'm upset. I mean it from the bottom of my heart."
King refused to get off the team bus to discuss Iverson's comments.
Iverson's tirade took some of the luster off a stellar night that started to go his way after Jones picked up his fourth foul.
Iverson did most of his damage when the Hornets were forced to use David Wesley to defend him, scoring 18 in the third quarter and leading a 23-12 run that changed the course of the game.
Iverson went quiet early in the fourth as it took the 76ers more than seven minutes to score their first basket, but he made up for it at the end by scoring six consecutive points after Charlotte pulled within three.
Iverson surpassed his previous playoff-high of 37, reached last year against Orlando. It was the ninth time this season that Iverson scored 40 or more points.
"You think you mean something to this team," Iverson said. "I've played this year with a torn rotator cuff, broken toe, broken thumb, inflammation in my elbow and other injuries I haven't even said anything about, and I don't think it's appreciated by nobody but my team.
"I was shocked to hear [King's comment]. I mean, I've been late to practice and I've missed some practices, but the guy who puts on No. 3 for the 76ers should never have to go through what I go through for this organization. I feel like I'm the heart of the team, but I don't feel like a franchise player.
"I've said from Day One I want to be a Sixer till I'm finished playing basketball. But to hear the marriage might not work from somebody who matters, who can make it work, it's time to start looking at stuff like that," Iverson said.
Eric Snow, George Lynch and Tyrone Hill added 10 points apiece for the Sixers, who got little help from their reserves as Toni Kukoc shot 0-for-5 and scored just two points.
But the lack of bench production mattered little because of the way Iverson turned the game around.
The first four fouls of the third quarter went against Philadelphia, and it looked a bit like a makeup call when Jones was called for an offensive foul with 7:54 left as he barely pushed off on Snow with his forearm.
"It was a flop. He told me he flopped," Jones said.
Said Snow: "It could have been a no-call."
The Hornets led 51-50 at the time, but it forced Jones to the bench for the rest of the quarter, and Charlotte wasn't the same without him.
With Jones shaking his head in disgust at his team's defensive failings, Iverson hit two 3-pointers, two shorter jumpers, two layups and four foul shots the rest of the quarter to give the 76ers a 75-66 lead entering the fourth.
The only player who could produce offensively for Charlotte the rest of the way was backup center Brad Miller, and that wasn't enough to get it done.
Derrick Coleman led the Hornets with 23 points and 16 rebounds. Anthony Mason, Wesley and Jones added 14 each.
Iverson got off to a slow start, missing his first four shots while the man he was guarding, Wesley, was putting 10 points on the board. Iverson had 15 by halftime after scoring 12 in the second quarter.
Iverson reached 30 points with 1:13 left in the third, making the first of three straight free throws after being fouled by Wesley on a 3-pointer. That made it 70-59, and then lead was nine heading into the fourth.
Charlotte opened the final quarter with a 7-1 run to pull within three, but that was as close as Hornets would get.
Notes: The attendance was 15,023 -- more than 8,500 short of
capacity. Large sections of the upper deck were empty. ... Amid
much uncertainty in Charlotte over whether Jones will leave as a
free agent, coach Paul Silas said: "It would be a total shock to
me." During the second half of the season, Jones wavered slightly
in his commitment to staying with the Hornets. ... The fans made
Matt Geiger feel right at home, booing the former Hornets player
when he checked into the game. The fans in Philly constantly boo