- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 31, 2001

76ERS 89, BUCKS 88

PHILADELPHIA Eric Snow wasn't even supposed to be in the game, let alone the hero of the night.

A question mark as to whether he would play less than 30 minutes before last night's crucial Game 5 with the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals, it was the hobbled guard's jumper with 31.7 seconds left that propelled the 76ers to an 89-88 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

With Allen Iverson struggling to a 5-for-27 shooting performance and the Sixers struggling in general from the field (31-for-84), Snow, who played on a fractured ankle, had his best game of the playoffs. Snow finished with 18 points, but more important he sank the game's biggest shot, a jumper in the final minute that gave the Sixers an 89-86 lead.

The Bucks, following a basket by Jason Caffey with 18.6 left, had one more chance after Philadelphia guard Aaron McKie missed a pair of free throws with 13.9 left. However, following a timeout, the Bucks went to Glenn Robinson, who missed a baseline jumper. In a last-ditch effort, Ray Allen missed the putback and time expired.

The win gives the 76ers a 3-2 advantage in the series and a chance to close the Bucks out tomorrow in Milwaukee. Should the Bucks win tomorrow, Game 7 will be in Philadelphia Sunday night.

The 76ers shot just 36.9 percent from the field last night compared with Milwaukee's 42.5 percent. However, Snow was not affected by his poor-shooting teammates, knocking down seven of nine shots from the field.

Dikembe Mutombo led the 76ers with a huge effort, finishing with 21 points, 13 rebounds and plenty of intimidated shots. McKie and Iverson both added 15 points.

Robinson led the Bucks with 22 points and Allen added 20. Tim Thomas came off the bench to score 15 points.

Down by 16 points midway through the second quarter, Philadelphia climbed back into the game on the strength of some unlikely characters. With Jumaine Jones streaking to the basket for fastbreak dunks and Mutombo sinking that horrible looking half hook shot, Philadelphia drew even for the first time at 63-63 on an Iverson jumper over Lindsey Hunter with 2:40 left in the third.

The Sixers took their first lead of the night on an Iverson basket to start the fourth quarter, and a breakaway layup from McKie gave the 76ers a 74-70 lead and forced the Bucks to call timeout with 10:27 left to play.

After allowing the Bucks to reclaim the lead and push the lead back to 82-78, the Sixers evened the score when Thomas was called for a flagrant foul on Tyrone Hill with 4:09 left in the game. Hill hit both free throws but the Sixers failed to capitalize on the free possession.

However, following timeout, McKie gave the Sixers an 85-82 advantage when he converted a 3-point play on the Sixers next possession.

Already beset by injuries, the 76ers got some good news before the game when it was determined that Snow would be available.

However, Iverson's injured tailbone has been the center of attention ever since he injured it in the 76ers' Game 7 victory back in the conference semifinals against Toronto. So bad was the injury it forced the diminutive guard out of Game 3, a game that the 76ers ultimately lost.

Iverson and his teammates, coming off a huge road win that evened the series on Memorial Day, started slowly, and no one was worse than Iverson, who missed his first seven attempts before finally getting a bucket with 1:13 left in the first.

Meanwhile the Bucks wasted little time getting out in front of the Sixers. After having spent the day before pointing fingers at one another for not taking advantage of their wounded opponent, the Bucks pounced on the Sixers from the start.

Making 50 percent of their field goals, the Bucks built the lead to 26-13 on Sam Cassell's layup with 2:58 left in the quarter. Robinson, who had not taken a free throw through the first four games of the series, even got to the line for the first time with 7:36 left in the quarter.

The Sixers managed to get the lead down to eight points at the end of the quarter, but that only seemed to slow the Bucks temporarily. Leading 35-27 early in the second, Milwaukee got a layup from Robinson and a pair of baskets from Cassell that put the lead at 41-27 the Bucks' largest margin to that point with 5:58 left in the half.

The Sixers made a push at this point. Starting to show signs of life for the first time, the 76ers went on a 13-4 run that pulled them to within 47-40. However, the Sixers were unable to whittle any more off the lead. Four free throws by Thomas put the lead back to 51-40. Two Snow free throws closed the Bucks' lead to 51-42 at the half.

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