Iverson sparks fourth-quarter comeback attempt
Updated: Saturday June 02, 2001 1:20 AM
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Before Allen Iverson snapped out of his shooting funk with a fantastic fourth quarter Friday night, the NBA's MVP simply snapped.
Despite Iverson scoring 26 of his 46 points in the final quarter, the Philadelphia 76ers blew a chance to end the Eastern Conference finals in six games, losing 110-100 to the Milwaukee Bucks.
And Iverson had something to do with that.
After scoring 11 of Philadelphia's first 13 points, Iverson, who at times looked like he was a pinball in the paint, lost his cool with 3:38 left in the first quarter when he was whistled for a technical after arguing furiously for a foul.
Ray Allen's free throw sparked the Bucks on a 24-2 run.
By the time the first half ended with Philadelphia trailing 60-31, Iverson had unraveled, missing nine of his last 10 shots and turning the ball over four times. Plus, he got whacked across the mouth inadvertently by Lindsey Hunter.
Although the Bucks built a 33-point lead, they had to sweat out the victory thanks to Iverson's astonishing finish.
"I feel good about those guys not feeling comfortable having a 30-point lead," Iverson said. "I bet you they know if they get us down Sunday by 30, we're not going to give up. It's just important for us not to get down 30 points."
In the Sixers' previous trip to Milwaukee, Iverson had come up big in the waning minutes after an accidental elbow from Allen had dislodged a tooth and forced him to swallow his own blood.
He came up big again Friday night, just not big enough.
Iverson scored two points in the second quarter and seven in the third before going off in the fourth quarter for 26 points.
Late in the third quarter, while Iverson was on the bench with 20 points, mired in a 7-for-21 shooting performance, NBC sideline reporter Jim Gray asked Sixers coach Larry Brown when he was going to take out his starters to give them a breather for Game 7.
"Why would I even be thinking about that?" a bemused Brown said.
So, Iverson stayed in and for the first time this series, he found his rhythm.
"I wish I had found it earlier," Iverson said.
But Bucks coach George Karl was certainly concerned that Iverson had located his lost touch.
"We probably lost control of him for the first time in the series in the second half," Karl said. "He had more confidence in the second half than he's had probably all series."
And that's the last thing the Bucks needed going into Game 7 on Sunday night.
Iverson took a seat before he could challenge the NBA playoff record for most points in a quarter -- 29 -- set by Golden State's Sleepy Floyd against the Los Angeles Lakers on May 10, 1987.
Iverson, who has made 47-of-153 shots (30.7 percent) in the series, scored 19 of the Sixers' first 21 fourth-quarter points, including three 3-pointers and a four-point play.
For the first time in the series, he was unstoppable.
And this time, he wasn't losing his cool, either.
After jostling with Sam Cassell up and down the court one time, Cassell was called for a foul and the two tangled at midcourt. The fans and some players thought it was a fight, but the two were smiling the entire time.
But the Bucks had too big of a lead for even the MVP to overcome, thanks in part to Iverson being a hothead early on.
Iverson's trouble began when he was hit by an elbow to the throat from Scott Williams, who was charged with a flagrant in the opening minutes.
"I think it was intentional. He knew what he was doing," Iverson said. "But he ain't throwing no elbow at a punk, so I didn't even think about that afterward. And then when I realized it was him, I really knew it wasn't nothing."
But Iverson was clearly upset. He felt he was fouled other times, too. Feeling he'd been fouled by Allen on one miss, he argued, to no avail, with the officiating crew of Joe Crawford, Jack Nies and Eddie Rush.
Then, after scoring back-to-back baskets, he hollered anew at Crawford, contending he was the ongoing victim of sharp elbows.
After he drew the technical with 3:38 remaining in the first quarter, the Sixers surrendered 17 consecutive points and were outscored 44-16 the rest of the first half.
Before the game, Karl said Iverson was "a great little player, a great little player. But great little players don't dominate playoff basketball."
Iverson changed that notion in the fourth quarter.
"Moral victories don't mean nothing at this point," Iverson
said. "But that's something I'll think about going into the next