Lakers' Fisher comes back with solid Game 2
Updated: Saturday June 09, 2001 1:38 AM
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Derek Fisher is usually a pretty intense guy. Even he let a smile slip when asked about his bounce-back effort Friday night.
"It feels good," he said with a broad grin, then paused before adding with a more serious look, "just to get a win."
That's Fisher -- a team player all the way.
There's no doubt he was down a bit individually after a disappointing performance in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, when he not only went scoreless, but also was beaten repeatedly on the defensive end by Allen Iverson.
That certainly wasn't the case in Game 2.
Fisher scored 14 points -- capped by the biggest basket of the game -- and harassed Iverson into a 10-for-29 shooting performance as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Philadelphia 76ers 98-89 to even the Finals.
"I felt better physically and emotionally tonight," Fisher said. "Tonight, some of the looks didn't fall for him."
When asked if Iverson was frustrated, as it appeared, Fisher replied: "A little bit. Allen was talking to the officials a little bit."
At one point late in the third quarter, far from the action, Iverson could be seen slapping Fisher's hand away as he tried to maneuver away from the tight defense Fisher was applying.
"Individually, I can't get too much into saying I'm going to stop Allen Iverson," Fisher said, although few have generally been as effective as he was in this game. "Allen's going to score points, but he's not going to beat us alone."
Iverson scored 48 points in the opener, mostly while being guarded by Fisher, who was generally unable to keep up with the Philadelphia star and sat out the last 20 1/2 minutes in favor of seldom-used Tyronn Lue.
Iverson finished with 23 points in Game 2 -- quite a comedown after three consecutive efforts of 44 points or more.
"Derek came out and played very hard and aggressive, which was good to see," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "The shots didn't start falling until the third and fourth quarter. That was a good response for us."
While Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant provided the bulk of the Lakers' offense, Fisher came up with 10 points in the second half.
And he regained his long-range shooting touch with a pair of 3-pointers, including from the top of the key with 2:09 left to give the Lakers a 92-86 lead.
The 76ers had outscored the Lakers 13-3 before that to cut an 86-73 lead to three points.
"They went down to double-team Shaquille in the middle -- he had been so effective," Fisher said. "I got a chance to get an open look, which I hadn't had in a while."
Fisher played 22 of a possible 24 minutes in the second half after sitting out the entire second quarter following a tough first period, when he made 1-of-4 shots.
The left-handed Fisher really made his impact felt late in the third quarter, getting a steal and right-handed dunk to give the Lakers a 74-65 lead, and a 3-pointer with 17.4 seconds left in the period to make it 77-67.
Then, with the Staples Center crowd at its loudest, he harassed Iverson into a 3-point air ball as time ran out in the quarter.
About the dunk, a rarity for him -- and with his right hand no less -- teammate Rick Fox said: "It wasn't Mutombo, but it was pretty nice. He made a 3-pointer after that. I think it energized him."
Fisher, who missed the season's first 62 games after surgery for a broken right foot last September, averaged a career-high 11.5 points. The Lakers are 27-6 since he returned, including 12 wins in 13 playoff games.
A first-round draft pick of the Lakers in 1996, Fisher said his confidence wasn't shaken despite his Game 1 problems and time on the bench.
"I've had more good nights than bad nights since I came back," he said. "I only got a few shots Wednesday night -- they didn't fall. The sun's not going to shine every day; this is Southern California."
Fisher averaged 15.1 points as the Lakers swept Portland, Sacramento and San Antonio in the playoffs, and had 38 assists and only six turnovers while playing terrific defense.
Fisher scored four points in Game 2's first 80 seconds to escape
the doldrums, but didn't score again until the third quarter.