- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 2, 2002

PHILADELPHIA Allen Iverson wouldn't stop himself, and neither could the Boston Celtics.
After missing 17 of 20 shots, Iverson scored Philadelphia's final eight points, including a go-ahead 14-footer with 22.6 seconds left that lifted the 76ers to an 83-81 victory last night over Boston, forcing Game 5 in their first-round series.
The deciding game will be tomorrow night in Boston. The defending Eastern Conference champions are trying to become just the seventh team in NBA history to win a best-of-five series after losing the first two games.
Iverson finished with 28 points, Derrick Coleman added 14 and Dikembe Mutombo had 10 points and 14 rebounds.
"The only person that can stop me is me," Iverson said. "I felt I got good shots, open jumpers, shots I can make, but I didn't make them. I know how to play through struggles now. I know how to miss 10 shots and keep fighting and feel like I can make the next one."
Antoine Walker scored all 25 of his points in the first three quarters, and Paul Pierce added 20 for the Celtics.
Trailing by two, Aaron McKie missed two free throws with 1:17 left, but the rebound was tapped out to Iverson and he made a driving layup to tie it at 77.
McKie then stripped Pierce, Eric Snow picked up the loose ball and passed to Iverson for a driving layup and a 79-77 lead with 54 seconds left.
Pierce missed an open layup after dribbling through a triple-team, but Rodney Rogers grabbed a loose ball and banked a jumper to tie it at 79.
With a defender in his face, Iverson nailed a jumper to give the Sixers an 81-79 lead. Walker missed a 3-pointer as Pierce called for the ball, and Iverson sealed it with two free throws.
Pierce hit a jumper at the buzzer to account for the final margin.
"I kept telling him that even though he was struggling, we were still in the game," 76ers coach Larry Brown said of Iverson. "He kept his head in the game. He's not going to stop shooting."
On Boston's next-to-last possession, Celtics coach Jim O'Brien called a play for Pierce, but Walker ended up talking his ill-advised 3 as McKie defended Pierce.
"We set up a play and they took it away," Pierce said, taking the blame off Walker. "Philly did a great job defending it."
Iverson, who missed the final 14 games of the regular season with a broken bone in his left hand, has struggled in this series. He missed 30 of 45 shots in the first two games, but scored 42 points on 10-for-23 shooting in Sunday's 108-103 victory.
Iverson didn't take his first foul shot until midway through the third quarter after going 19-for-20 from the foul line in Game 3. He finished 9-for-26 from the field and 9-for-10 from the line.
After making his first two shots, Iverson was 3-for-20 before hitting a jumper to tie it at 70 with 5:20 left.
"He's a great player, he gets paid to put his team on his back in clutch situations and that's what he did," O'Brien said.
Boston, 15-for-30 from 3-point range in Game 3, was 9-for-29 from beyond the arc. Walker had five 3s. He had seven 3s in the first half of Game 3, including a playoff-record six in the second quarter.
"We had an opportunity to close them out," Walker said. "We have to make sure what we worked for all season pays off and come up with a big win Friday."
After complaining because they took 26 fewer foul shots in Game 3, the Celtics had just 14 free throws, while the Sixers were 19-for-30 from the foul line.
The 76ers tried to take advantage of a mismatch inside by getting the ball to Mutombo early, but he didn't attempt a shot in the first half, and missed six free throws.
Philadelphia outscored the Celtics 13-5 to end the first half, taking a 38-36 lead. McKie's 3-pointer made it 36-35, and Iverson followed with a 12-footer.
Notes Right before tipoff, former Sixers guard Andrew Toney, who was nicknamed "The Boston Strangler," offered his former team some words of encouragement on the arena's video screen. Highlights of Toney playing against the Celtics were shown during the first timeout. Snow, who had a career-playoff high 23 points in Game 3, didn't take his first shot until 3:15 remained in the first half. The 76ers are 14-4 in Game 4s of a best-of-five series, including 4-0 under Brown.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide