Brown not giving up on Sixers' reserves
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Raja Bell, the surprising contributor in Game 1, may have struggled in Game 2, but coach Larry Brown is far from giving up on him or his other subs.
Bell hit just two free-throws in 18 minutes Friday. His 2-for-2 from both the field and foul line in Game 1 was a memory as he missed his only attempt from the field and was 2-for-6 from the line.
Friday night, the bench star for the 76ers was Todd MacCulloch (13 points, 16 minutes).
Brown began the second quarter with MacCulloch, Geiger and Bell in the lineup. They not only held Philadelphia's lead, they extended it.
"Every day, the practice is devoted to the Kevin Ollies, the Todd MacCullochs, the Raja Bells," Brown said. "I said this before: Our best players believe in our bench, in our subs, which is critical."
Brown used all 11 of his available players by the second quarter.
"You ever think we'd make a comeback with some of the people we had on the court?" Brown asked. "It's amazing when kids give effort. ... I'm sitting here and I'm pretty proud of my team."
Returning the favor
While Allen Iverson outplayed Kobe Bryant in Game 1 -- Iverson scored 48 points to Bryant's 15 -- Bryant returned the favor Friday night. Bryant scored a team-high 31 points and had six assists. Iverson, who shot 10-of-29, had 23 points and three assists.
Bryant also got to the free-throw line, making all eight of his free throws, compared to just one in Game 1.
"I wasn't thinking about the first game at all," Bryant said. "I just wanted to help the team any way I could."
Stars in the seats
While Los Angeles is known for its numerous sideline stars, Philadelphia's First Union Center is known more for its one star -- Bill Cosby. The Cos, usually the most recognizable face in the crowd, will get some competition Sunday.
Expected to attend Game 3: former President Bill Clinton, Denzel Washington, Bruce Willis and Philadelphia native Will Smith.
Sixers president Pat Croce says he refused to let Clinton sit in his skybox.
"I didn't want him in my box," Croce said. "I've got my friends and family with me, people who have been through the last five years. But I'll have him in the house."
Shaquille O'Neal nearly registered a quadruple-double Friday with 28 points, 20 rebounds, nine assists and eight blocks. Only four times in NBA Finals have players recorded quadruple doubles -- the last one was recorded by David Robinson in 1994.
And while much was made of O'Neal's NBA Finals record-tying eight blocks, MacCulloch said O'Neal did more than just stop the Sixers.
"Not only did he block the ball, but a lot of times they kept it inbounds and that led to their fastbreak," MacCulloch said. "So instead of knocking it out of bounds and having us get the ball back, he was able to somehow keep the ball inbounds. That's a much better defensive play than swatting it into the third row, which he has the ability to do."
There have been numerous comparisons made between the NBA Finals and culturally rich, but overused, cliches, including Rocky Balboa -- he's from Philadelphia, you know -- and David and Goliath.
Larry Brown doesn't mind.
"Didn't David win?" Brown asked. "I thought that was pretty competitive. That's what my mom told me."