76ers 89, Bucks 83
Tuesday, May 29th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
MILWAUKEE (AP) _ Allen Iverson wanted this win so badly that he swallowed his own blood while clinching it.
Playing the final two minutes with a dislodged front tooth that caused heavy bleeding, Iverson scored 11 of his team's final 13 points _ including seven in a row after he was elbowed by Ray Allen _ as Philadelphia beat the Milwaukee Bucks 89-83 Monday to tie the Eastern Conference finals at two games apiece.
The victory ensured that the NBA Finals will not start until June 6, meaning the Western Conference champion Los Angeles Lakers will have had 10 days between games.
Of much more immediate importance is the outcome of this series, which is now a best-of-three.
Game 5 is Wednesday night at Philadelphia, and Game 6 is Friday night back at the Bradley Center. By then, Iverson's blood will have been all mopped up.
Iverson, who sat out Game 3 with a sore left hip joint, had some of his speed back but was without his shooting touch for much of the game. That latter factor didn't really matter much after he was elbowed in the mouth with just over two minutes left.
After staying down on the court for several moments, he stood up and spat out a mouthful of blood as the 76ers called timeout.
``I didn't think the refs were going to let me back in the game because I was spitting up so much blood,'' said Iverson, whose right front tooth was loosened. ``I was trying to stop the bleeding but it wouldn't stop, so I kept my mouth closed and swallowed the blood when it filled up.''
Eric Snow's steal led to a fast-break layup by Iverson for an 84-77 lead with 1:07 left, and Iverson shook his head at the crowd as Milwaukee called a timeout.
Glenn Robinson, who led the Bucks with 20 points, was ejected for drawing two technicals with 58 seconds left. Iverson made both technical foul shots for an 87-77 lead, and the Bucks were done.
``We had too many breakdowns from start to finish,'' Milwaukee center Ervin Johnson said after the Bucks failed to show the sense of urgency and desperation that the 76ers displayed.
Philadelphia also got big contributions from Dikembe Mutombo and Tyrone Hill, and shut down Milwaukee's offense over the final eight minutes.
Bucks fans booed the home team as it left the court, frustrated by yet another disappointing effort from a team that has shown a consistent inability to take control of a playoff series when it's there for the taking.
Iverson missed 10 straight shots during one stretch and finished 10-for-32 from the field for 28 points, but he did enough in the fourth quarter to make his early shooting woes insignificant.
``All this game shows is that the two teams are pretty equal and it's going to be a great series,'' Bucks coach George Karl said.
Iverson played the entire game except for the final 16 seconds of the third quarter and had eight assists, five rebounds and two steals. Mutombo had 17 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks, and Hill _ whose father is seriously ill in a Cincinnati hospital _ added 14 points.
``Series is over, guys,'' Hill said as he walked past reporters after the game.
It was clear right from the outset that Iverson had his quickness back as he looked nothing like the player who moved through Game 2 at half-speed. Sprinting and accelerating more like the Iverson of old, he was able to start and stop on a dime and use his crossover dribble and quick first step to lose 1-on-1 defenders.
Iverson showed off his speed on one of the key plays of the game, a drive around Glenn Robinson for a running bank shot with 3:06 left that gave the Sixers an 80-75 lead. Allen missed a jumper on Milwaukee's next possession, and Iverson then drew three defenders as he drove the lane.
The Sixers swung the ball to Eric Snow for a corner jumper that made it 82-75 with 2:18 left, setting up the bloody finish.
``He stuck his head in and he caught my elbow,'' Allen said. ``He thinks I did it intentionally, and you guys know I wouldn't do anything like that. But I will defend myself next time when we go out there on the floor.''
Although Iverson had a turnover on his first touch and missed his first two shots, he was moving easily. He made a quick move along the baseline for a layup that gave Philadelphia a 20-14 lead.
Tim Thomas had two 3-pointers as the Bucks used a 14-0 run to take a 40-33 lead, but Philadelphia answered with a 7-0 run to prevent Milwaukee from taking that momentum into the locker room at halftime.
Iverson hit his first shot of the third quarter and had assists on consecutive shots by Aaron McKie and Jumaine Jones, allowing the Sixers to open a small lead they maintained throughout the third.
McKie opened the fourth with a 3-pointer to make it 72-62, but just when it looked like the Sixers had taken the crowd out of the game, Allen hit a jumper and 3-pointer to start a 9-0 run that pulled the Bucks within one.
Mutombo dunked a miss and Iverson darted through traffic for a layup that gave the Sixers a 78-73 lead heading into the final 5 1/2 minutes.
``It took a lot out of me,'' Iverson said. ``Coming into the game I knew I'd feel bad after, but my heart feels good right now and that's what's important.''