PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- Allen Iverson refused to let the Philadelphia 76ers' season end.
Iverson scored 13 of his 42 points in the fourth quarter as the defending Eastern Conference champions avoided elimination with a tense 108-103 victory over the Boston Celtics in Game Three of their first-round series.
The Sixers avoided a best-of-five series sweep for the first time since 1991 against Milwaukee. They host Game Four on Wednesday.
Responding in pressure situations is nothing new for Iverson.
"That's my life," said. "That's just what I've been going through since I've been in the league, so I'm kind of used to it. When we lose, people are going to point the finger at me and coach. And when we win gaems, I get the praise. You just accept that and understand that's the way it's going to be."
It was the eighth time Iverson scored at least 40 points in a playoff game. The Sixers are 7-1 in those contests.
"We have another chance to play and we have to put pressure on them, where they feel it," Sixers coach Larry Brown said. "It doesn't look to me like they're feeling it. They're playing with a lot of poise and have a lot to be proud of."
Philadelphia also got a big game from Eric Snow, who scored 23 points. After going a combined 4-of-25 in the first two games of the series, he made 9-of-14 shots in Game Three and scored six straight points for the Sixers during one stretch in the fourth quarter.
"There was no pressure on them at all," Snow said. "All of the pressure was on us. Fortunately, we were able to pull this game out and now we have to take care of our home and win on Wednesday and even the series."
The Celtics, looking to move into the second round for the first time since 1992, were in position to close out the Sixers, taking a 103-100 lead on Rodney Rogers' 3-pointer with 1:32 remaining. But the Sixers scored the final eight points.
"It's a game we should have had," Boston forward Paul Pierce said. "We're up three with under three minutes to go. We gave ourselves a chance to win after being down in the first half. It's definitely one we should have had.'
All season, the Celtics lived by the 3-pointer. On this day, however, they died by it.
After Iverson hit two free throws to pull the Sixers within a point, Pierce was called for a critical three-second violation while trying to post up.
Derrick Coleman, who played a strong game with 18 points and nine rebounds, followed Aaron McKie's miss to give Philadelphia a 104-103 lead with 45 seconds left.
Pierce scored 29 points for the Celtics, but missed a 3-pointer from the top of the key on the ensuing possession. Boston was forced to foul, and Iverson hit two more from the line, making it 106-103 with 19 seconds to play.
"I felt that everybody would come out and play the game like it was their last," Iverson said. "But we didn't have a choice. If you can't get up for a game like this, there's something wrong. You're not a basketball player, you're not a competitor."
Rogers and Pierce missed 3-pointers on Boston's last possession, and Coleman clinched the win with two from the line with 1.1 seconds to go.
"It's now Game Four," Pierce said. "We expected a war. We didn't expect Philly to bow down to us in Game Three. We expect another war for the next game."
Antoine Walker scored 27 points for Boston but was shut out from 3-point range in the second half after making all seven of his attempts from behind the arc in the opening 24 minutes. He finished 7-of-13 from downtown.
"We feel like we're still very confident we can beat them here," Walker said. "Obviously, they're going to feel really good and come out with a lot of energy on Wednesday. We have to be prepared and ready to match their energy again."
While the Sixers never have rallied to win a best-of-five series after losing the first two games, they have renewed hopes since Iverson seems to have shaken off the rust after missing the final 14 games of the regular season with a broken hand.
The NBA scoring champion rebounded from a shaky outing in Game Two, when he made just 10-of-29 shots. He took over Sunday's contest down the stretch, scoring 11 of the Sixers' final 15 points, and was deadly from the line, making 19-of-20 free throws.
"We had big games from a lot of people," Iverson said. "To beat a team like that, you're going to have to have a lot of guys contribute."
Overall, Philadelphia was 36-of-44 from the line, compared to just 16-of-18 for Boston, which ran most of its offense from the perimeter. The Sixers shot 45 percent (33-of-74).
"We didn't get the calls," Boston guard Kenny Anderson said. "We can't cry about it, but we didn't get the calls."
Spurred on by a fired-up crowd at the First Union Center, the Sixers opened an 11-point lead in the first quarter and stretched it to 16 with four minutes left in the first half.
But Boston stayed in the game behind Walker's outside shooting and closed within 58-52 at the intermission.
The Celtics tried to bury the Sixers with a long-range assault, making 15 of 30 3-pointers, a playoff record for a Philadelphia opponent.
Boston opened the second half with a 10-2 spurt, taking a 62-60 lead on Pierce's 3-pointer. The Celtics got their lead up to 74-68 on Tony Battie's jumper midway through the third period. But Philadelphia took an 83-81 advantage into the final quarter and the contest remained close until the Sixers took control in the final minute.
Walter McCarty followed in Pierce's miss to give the Celtics a 96-93 lead with 5 1/2 minutes left, but Iverson answered with a 3-pointer, pulling the Sixers even with 4:22 remaining.
The game also was tied at 98-98 and 100-100 before Rogers gave the Celtics their last lead.
Rogers scored 13 points and Anderson added 11 for the Celtics, who shot 49 percent (36-of-73) overall.