Finding an answer
Sixers overcome loss of Iverson to beat Celtics 96-91Posted: Friday March 22, 2002 10:20 PM
Updated: Saturday March 23, 2002 10:32 AM
The NBA's leading scorer and last year's MVP left the game at halftime with a broken bone in his left hand, and the 76ers rallied from a five-point deficit without him to beat the Boston Celtics 96-91 Friday night.
Iverson is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with the injury below the index finger on his non-shooting hand. It was diagnosed by X-rays taken at New England Baptist Hospital after he played the entire first half.
"He told me it was broke as soon as it happened," Snow said. "One guy can't make up for him. It's got to be a collective effort."
That's what the 76ers used after Iverson scored 22 points but they still trailed 50-45 at halftime. In the second half, Snow had 12 points, Derrick Coleman 10 and Speedy Claxton, who took Iverson's spot in the lineup, had nine.
"We knew everybody would have to step up with him off the floor," Claxton said. "Everyone had to chip in, and we did it."
The Celtics may have let down after controlling the game while Iverson was on the court.
"We didn't play with a killer instinct," Paul Pierce said. "I don't understand it. We should go out there without their best player and put them on their backs. We didn't take advantage of it."
The Celtics tied the game at 86 on Antoine Walker's 3-pointer with 6:40 remaining. Then Coleman hit three consecutive baskets and Boston never led again.
Snow had 17 points and nine assists, while Coleman added 15 points and 15 rebounds as the 76ers won their fifth straight road game. Iverson had 20 points after being hurt.
The Celtics were led by Pierce with 26 points, Walker with 17 and Rodney Rogers with 15, but made only 11 of 33 shots in the second half when they were outscored 51-41.
"Our intensity went down when we found out Iverson wasn't playing," Boston's Tony Delk said. "You've still got to play the same type of defense that had us a lead in the first half and we didn't do that."
The game could be a preview of the first playoff round. Boston is in third place in the Eastern Conference with a 39-30 record, while Philadelphia is sixth at 36-32. The 76ers are 0-8 this season in games played without Iverson.
He hit seven of 12 shots and went 3-of-5 on 3-pointers in the first half when he also had three steals and three assists.
"We beat a very good team in their building with a lot of adversity. That is very pleasing," Brown said. "The big thing was we got back in the game with five or six minutes left in the second quarter."
The Celtics took their biggest lead, 33-18, with 58 seconds gone in the second quarter on Walter McCarty's 11-foot turnaround jumper. The 76ers took their first lead 2:43 into the third quarter when Claxton's driving layup made the score 54-53.
In the second half, Claxton scored seven of the 76ers' first 15 points, giving them a 60-56 lead.
Coleman's three straight field goals gave Philadelphia a 92-86 lead before Walker got the next four points, making it 92-90 with 2:12 left.
Snow restored the four-point lead with a layup with 1:50 to go and Pierce hit a free throw, closing the gap to 94-91 with 23 seconds remaining. But Snow finished off the victory with two free throws with 19 seconds left.
Boston had won eight of its previous 10 games, starting with a victory in Philadelphia on March 4 that ended a four-game losing streak.
Notes: Coleman started after missing Wednesday night's loss to Miami with a hyperextended left knee. He has played in just five of the 76ers' last nine games. ... The Celtics missed a chance for their first 40-win season in nine years. ... Boston failed to beat Philadelphia twice in the same season for the fourth straight year. The 76ers took the season series 3-1.