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Thomas, 76ers' frontcourt dominate Hornets

4/24/2003

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Allen Iverson didn't have to do all the
scoring this time.

Coming off a brilliant 55-point performance in the series
opener, Iverson had 29 and Kenny Thomas had 17 points and 16
rebounds, leading the Philadelphia 76ers to a 90-85 victory over
the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night.

The 76ers lead 2-0 in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference
quarterfinal. Game 3 is Saturday in New Orleans.

"The guys knew what they had to do to get over the hump,''
Iverson said. "It makes it that much easier on me, takes more
pressure off me and lets me concentrate on the defensive end.''

Derrick Coleman had 12 points and six assists and Keith Van Horn
added 11 points for the Sixers. Thomas, Van Horn and Coleman --
Philadelphia's starting frontcourt -- scored 11 points combined in
Game 1. They got 40 Wednesday night.

"We knew we had to contribute more,'' Van Horn said. "We knew
they would focus more on Allen, and we had to contribute.''

David Wesley had 24 points and Robert Pack 15 for New Orleans.
Jamal Mashburn scored 14, but he had only one point after chipping
a bone in his right middle finger and dislocating it. He sat out
the final 6:49.

The Hornets were without Baron Davis, their second-leading
scorer, who was out with a left knee injury. He and Mashburn are
day-to-day.

Despite missing its two best players, New Orleans trailed only
79-73 after Robert Traylor hit a jumper with 7:40 left.

But Iverson answered with a 15-footer and a long jumper that
made it 83-73 with 4:25 remaining. Coleman set up Iverson' second
jumper, diving to gather a loose ball and drawing a standing
ovation from a Philadelphia crowd that once vilified him during his
first tour with the Sixers, from 1995-98.

"They were outhustling us,'' Wesley said. "It seemed we never
were coming up with the big play.''

After a pair of free throws by Coleman made it 86-76, Iverson
hit another long jumper with 2:29 left. The Hornets didn't get
closer than seven until making the last basket.

"They came out very aggressive, and did a good job on us
defensively,'' Hornets coach Paul Silas said. "Once Mash went out,
that was it.''

Iverson made 21 of 32 shots in an incredible display Sunday,
hitting jumpers from all over the floor. He missed 16 of 27 shots
Wednesday night as the Hornets used several different defenders on
him.

"We can't expect Allen to make 21 of 32 every night,'' Sixers
coach Larry Brown said. "We don't win tonight without our inside
guys.''

Iverson also missed six of his 12 free throws, including five
straight in the second quarter.

Pack, who didn't play in the series opener, had the most success
against Iverson in the second quarter and part of the third. But
Pack got his fifth foul early in the third quarter and didn't
return until midway through the fourth.

Thomas acknowledged being nervous before the opener, and he had
just four points and two rebounds in his first career playoff game.
He was more relaxed in Game 2 and came through with a dominant
performance. His seven offensive rebounds were one more than the
Hornets had.

"Allen was hot last game, and we had to keep going to him,''
Thomas said. "Tonight was different. He got everybody else
involved, we got the ball inside and got some easy baskets.''

With time winding down in the third period, Iverson dribbled
around Stacey Augmon, banged into Traylor, stepped back and hit a
3-pointer to give the Sixers a 76-66 lead entering the fourth
quarter.

Wesley, who had five points in Game 1, scored the first seven
for the Hornets and 10 of the first 14.

The Sixers outscored New Orleans 16-4 to start the second
quarter, taking a 43-26 lead. They went on a 10-2 run with Iverson
on the bench, getting two layups from Monty Williams during that
stretch. Three free throws by Mashburn and a layup by George Lynch
cut it to 50-38 at halftime.

"We knew their other guys were capable of scoring,'' Lynch
said. "We've got to execute better.''

Game notes
This is the first time the Sixers have led a series 2-0
since 1991, when they swept Milwaukee in a best-of-five series. ...
NBA commissioner David Stern attended the game. Former Sixers
president Pat Croce also was in the crowd. ... Lynch started in
place of Davis. The Hornets were 20-12 in games Lynch started
during the regular season. ... The 76ers are 16-10 in home playoff
games over the last five years.