- The Washington Times - Friday, May 18, 2001

PHILADELPHIA The Toronto Raptors have to believe they have seen the worst of it.
Philadelphia 76ers guard Allen Iverson became just the second player to score 50 or more points twice in a playoff series Michael Jordan did it for Chicago against Cleveland in 1988 in the 76ers' 121-88 blowout victory Wednesday. The Raptors scored just 12 points in the first quarter after falling behind 11-0 and trailed 32-12 after one.
"It was like we didn't show up," Toronto coach Lenny Wilkens said. "They were ready. We weren't. We were awful."
Reserve guard Dell Curry was more graphic: "We got our butts kicked."
Trailing 3-2, the Raptors must rebound tonight to stave off elimination in the Eastern Conference semifinals and force a Game 7 on Sunday in Philadelphia.
This is not unfamiliar terrain for Toronto. Against New York, the Raptors rallied from a 2-1 deficit to win the series.
"That's the positive spin you have to try to put on a loss like this," Toronto's Alvin Williams said. "This was bad, but we've been here before."
Following their Game 5 rout, the once-loose Raptors now appear tight. Guard Chris Childs, one of the defenders embarrassed by Iverson, said the Raptors blew an opportunity to sweep the Sixers after winning Game 1. Following Wednesday's loss, Childs never gave reporters the opportunity to inquire about that comment.
"Man, don't even ask me about the sweep stuff," Childs said.
Childs' early bravado did seem to inspire some of the 76ers, mainly guard Aaron McKie, whose 19 points in Game 5 were second to Iverson's 52. McKie said the 76ers took Childs' comments as a slap in the face.
"Maybe there is something sarcastic he can say in the next 24 hours that can be more motivation," McKie said.
Although they didn't sound optimistic, the Raptors have reasons to believe they can win tonight. Before Iverson put the Sixers ahead in Game 4 with a 3-pointer in the final three minutes, the Sixers were 0-3 at Toronto this season. The Raptors were in that game despite shooting a franchise-low 33.3 percent from the field and star Vince Carter hitting just 8-for-27 from the field for 16 points.
When the Raptors held a 2-1 advantage going into Game 4, Toronto's Charles Oakley was the biggest talker on the team. Anyone who stuck a microphone in Oakley's face was told that the 76ers had just one scoring threat and that they had not played like a top seed so far. He even said Iverson, who scored 54 points in the second game of the series, couldn't do it again.
Since Game 4, Oakley has been the poster child for disgruntled players. Now Oakley, who played just 20 minutes and contributed two points in Game 5, has begun to complain about the way Wilkens is using him.
"I've been around; I've played in playoff games and championships. I don't know, I guess I can't get the job done," Oakley said sarcastically. "I deserve to be playing."
He was especially upset about being left on the court in the waning moments of Wednesday's rout.
"When you're down 26 points going into the fourth quarter, why put me back in the game? I'm a veteran," he said. "I'm not trying to get stats or something like that. It's embarrassing to put me back in the game."
The Raptors, who failed to take advantage of a season-ending broken foot suffered by 76ers starting forward George Lynch, now will get a second chance to take advantage of a Philadelphia injury. Starting center Dikembe Mutombo broke the small finger on his left hand Wednesday.
"We can't look at that as something that will slow him down," Wilkens said. "They had to play a new guy [Jumaine Jones] for Lynch, and they still played a strong game. We just have to answer the bell."


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