2001 NBA Finals

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'Deke' does it

Mutombo helps lift Sixers to Game 5 win

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Posted: Thursday May 31, 2001 1:11 AM
Updated: Thursday May 31, 2001 9:48 AM
  Dikembe Mutombo Dikembe Mutombo had his best game of the series with 21 points and 13 rebounds. AP

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The scowl on Dikembe Mutombo's face didn't change all night -- until the game was over.

Mutombo, best known for his defensive ability, helped bail out the Philadelphia 76ers with a rare offensive display Wednesday night.

The NBA's defensive player of the year scored 21 points as the Sixers overcame an awful shooting night by Allen Iverson to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 89-88 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals.

"We knew the only way we could win is if everyone contributed," Mutombo said. "We were short-handed; our guys are hurt, but we want to win so badly."

Game 6 is Friday night in Milwaukee. Philadelphia leads the series 3-2 and is one victory away from advancing to the NBA Finals for the first time in 18 years.

Mutombo scored eight points in the third quarter as the Sixers rallied to tie the game after trailing by as much as 16 in the first half and nine at halftime.

His hook shot cut the deficit to 63-61 with 4:58 left in the third before Iverson hit a jumper to tie the game for the first time since the opening seconds.

After the Bucks took a 68-65 lead, Mutombo hit his final two free throws to cut it to 68-67.

Mutombo finished 6-of-11 from the field, 9-of-9 from the foul line and grabbed 13 rebounds, including six on the offensive glass.

"When it comes to the playoffs, you want to shoot a high percentage of foul shots, because a lot of the games are decided at the end," Mutombo said.

The Bucks aren't so sure Mutombo earned all those foul calls.

"It's frustrating, because every time he gets the ball down low, he gets a foul," Ray Allen said.

After the Sixers beat Milwaukee 89-83 in Game 4, Mutombo assured the Sixers would win Game 5 and then take the series. He guaranteed a victory in Game 7 of the conference semifinals against Toronto.

As Iverson struggled early Wednesday, the Sixers began focusing their offense around Mutombo. He posted up inside, made a couple hook shots and drew some fouls. Mutombo fouled out Ervin Johnson and helped get Scott Williams into early foul trouble.

"We made a conscious effort to get the ball down to him and then we can play off him if they double team," Aaron McKie said.

Mutombo, acquired from Atlanta in a six-player deal at the trade deadline, has silenced those who believed Philadelphia got the wrong end of the deal by giving away Theo Ratliff and Toni Kukoc.

Before the series, Bucks head coach George Karl said Mutombo wouldn't impact his team and called him "irrelevant."

"I don't care what George Karl said," Mutombo said. "I'm just trying to get the team to the finals."

Related information
SI's Marty Burns: Sixers-Bucks Breakdown
City leaders wager on Eastern finals
Sixers' Snow to play despite fractured ankle
Snow leads limping Sixers to 3-2 series lead
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