Ray of hope
Allen, Bucks bounce back to top Sixers
Updated: Friday May 25, 2001 2:15 AM
Allen gave Milwaukee a big lead right at the start and silenced the Philadelphia 76ers with clutch jumpers every time they made a run Thursday night, scoring a career playoff-high 38 points as the Bucks evened the Eastern Conference finals at one game apiece with a 92-78 victory.
"I was making shot after shot, Sam [Cassell] was finding me and I said, 'Let's continue to keep doing this,' " Allen said.
That's exactly what they did, with Allen repeatedly snuffing out every Philadelphia threat with an assortment of jumpers from inside the 3-point line and beyond it.
Playing in the same arena where he scored 42 points earlier this season to set what was then a career-high, Allen was in a groove all night as he shot 15-for-24 overall and 7-for-11 on 3-pointers.
"I love this gym," Allen said. "Playing against Allen brings out the best in me."
Allen also did an excellent job of defending Iverson, who shot just 5-for-26 from the field -- missing 11 straight shots at one point -- for 16 points. Allen's job was made easier by the fact that Iverson was slowed considerably by a bruised hip and buttocks.
"I would like for him to stay at home and miss the next game so he has three or four days' rest, but I'm going to get overruled by him on that one," Philadelphia coach Larry Brown said.
Iverson, however, did not rule out that possibility.
"If I play like this, if it's hurting my team, I need to start thinking about myself, too. It's getting worse, not getting any better," he said. "When it's getting worse, it's something you have to think about."
Game 3 in the best-of-seven series is Saturday at Milwaukee.
Milwaukee's "Big Three" of Allen, Glenn Robinson and Cassell scored the Bucks' first 30 points, and Milwaukee held a double-digit lead for 39 of the final 43 minutes.
Robinson finished with 16 points and Cassell had 14 points and 11 assists for the Bucks, who went to the free throw line only six times all game and were outrebounded by 11. Milwaukee made only two free throws, the fewest ever in an NBA playoff game.
The main reason for the Bucks' lack of free throws -- Philadelphia, by comparison, was 24-of-30 -- was the shooting prowess of Allen, who also had six assists and six rebounds.
Allen had extra energy on the offensive end because he didn't have to expend much chasing Iverson around.
"He poses such a matchup problem because he's quick, but we know that he's hobbled a little bit and now's the time we have to take advantage of him being disabled," Allen said. "He stands funny. He stands like an old man now, holding his back and holding his tail bone when he walks."
Allen gave Milwaukee its first 10-point lead on a 3-pointer with 4:48 left in the first, and Allen's third 3-pointer of the quarter gave Milwaukee a 30-15 lead. To that point, Allen, Robinson and Cassell combined to shoot 13-for-17 from the field.
The Bucks cooled off in a major way in the second quarter, missing 12 consecutive shots. But the 76ers trimmed just seven points off their deficit over that 51/2-minute span, and the Bucks held a 49-37 halftime lead as Allen had 20 points.
"The key was when we got them to miss in the second quarter and didn't make much of a dent," Brown said.
Robinson started the third quarter with a 3-pointer and a jumper, and Cassell followed with a jumper to put the Bucks ahead 56-37. The Sixers got back within 10 as Iverson got his eighth assist on a jumper by McKie that made it 59-49, but Allen answered quickly with a 3-pointer and a jumper.
Philadelphia again got within 10 on a jumper by Iverson with 2:11 left in the third, but Allen -- who else? -- knocked down a 3-pointer to end yet another threat.
Allen's final demoralizer was a 3-pointer with 9 1/2 minutes left in the fourth quarter after the Sixers had pulled to 71-60 on a basket by Rodney Buford.
Allen scored five straight points to make it 82-67 with 6:47 left, and the fans began streaming toward the exits with 3:30 left.
"I think the series just began," Bucks coach George Karl said. "I always said a series doesn't begin until a road team wins."
Notes: After playing 12 minutes in Game 1, 76ers forward Matt Geiger was not in uniform because of pain in his right knee and quadriceps. ... Philadelphia forward George Lynch had a cast removed from his broken left foot. He hopes to be available for the NBA Finals if the 76ers get that far. ... Milwaukee's Lindsey Hunter, who entered then game shooting just 20 percent from the field during the playoffs, made his first two shots and finished 3-for-7 from the field for six points. ... Iverson's career-low in the playoffs is 13.