Turning it up a notch
Lakers' defense working against Iverson
Updated: Wednesday June 13, 2001 2:01 AM
And otherwise, too.
The Lakers don't plan on backing off when they try to extend their 2-1 lead in the NBA Finals on Wednesday night, and they'll probably go even harder if the officials don't clamp down on them.
"You get away with a lot of things in the playoffs," Iverson said Tuesday. "So it's just something you've got to deal with.
"The only thing I have a problem with is the holding. If somebody holds me, I can't do what got us here. That's the most frustrating part, just being held. Held like I'm 350 pounds."
Iverson weighs less than half that much, but he's the Philadelphia 76ers' heavyweight, as evidenced by his winning the scoring title during the season and his production in the Finals:
"He's so aggressive; his mentality is to get the ball in the basket, and even when you're playing good defense, it's still hard to keep him from scoring," said Fisher, who had a difficult time keeping up with Iverson in Game 1 but did a much better job after.
"I think you have to try and mix it up," Fisher said when asked the best way to defend the 6-foot, 165-pounder. "Anybody in the league, if you play them the same way consistently, they're going to figure it out and make the necessary adjustment."
It makes sense to double-team a behemoth like Shaquille O'Neal, but a waterbug like Iverson wouldn't seem to require that kind of defensive strategy since he spends a lot of time on the perimeter.
However, as Iverson said: "If I played one-on-one against a guy all night, then I'll destroy that guy. Just like if Shaq had to play against one guy all night with no doubles, he would destroy him.
"Simple as that."
What's also simple is what the Lakers are trying to do with Iverson.
"We talked about how to limit his touches," assistant coach Jim Cleamons said. "If Fish and Tyronn play deny defense, that's wonderful.
"He's got so much energy, I don't know what making him work means. Run him into traffic, cut the passing lanes, deny him the ball, these are all part of the plan. Hopefully, he'll get tired."
That doesn't seem possible; Iverson seems to be going just as strong in the fourth quarter as the first, although Lue said he thought Iverson was worn down a bit by the end of Game 3.
Some of Iverson's frustration has spilled onto the floor, notably in the second quarter Sunday night, when he and Lue went at it verbally and were hit with double technicals.
So, has Lue frustrated Iverson with his tight defense?
"I think so, a little bit," Lue replied. "I mean, anytime you get into a jawing match with me, I think I'm getting to his head a little bit."
The baby-faced Lue, mostly a bench-sitter in the first three rounds of the playoffs, has found a niche in the Finals by playing strong defense on Iverson.
"He's so fast, he has an array of moves," Lue said. "When he catches the ball, he's going to go at you. He attacks you on every play. I'm just doing the best I can to deny him the ball as much as possible."
Lue said Iverson has tried to intimidate him, but he wasn't going to let that happen.
"I really don't have time to be intimidated; I have to be ready whenever Phil calls on me," Lue said, referring to Lakers head coach Phil Jackson. "I really don't like to talk trash, but I'm not going to back down from anybody, either."