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A.I. shoots poorly but gets win

11/21/2003

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Just like they did so many times when Larry
Brown was their coach, the Philadelphia 76ers turned to their
defense to bail them out.

Allen Iverson missed 14 of his first 18 shots, including a
breakaway layup, but finished with 24 points to lead the Sixers to
an 87-85 victory over the Boston Celtics on Friday night.

Paul Pierce scored 33 and Vin Baker had 22 for the Celtics, who
have lost three straight and four of five.

The Sixers held Boston to just 27.8 percent shooting (10-for-36)
in the second half, erasing a nine-point halftime deficit.

"We got a little more defensive and really started to contest
shots," first-year coach Randy Ayers said. "We did a solid job at
that end of the floor."

The Sixers, again playing without Glenn Robinson (ankle) and
Derrick Coleman (knee), have won two straight for just the second
time this season.

Kenny Thomas had 14 points and 12 rebounds and Marc Jackson had
12 points and nine rebounds in Robinson's spot.

Pierce scored eight straight points on a dunk and consecutive
3-pointers as Boston tied it at 83 with 1:28 left. Aaron McKie
answered with a jumper to give the Sixers an 85-83 lead with 1:05
to go, and a swarming defense forced a shot clock violation of
Boston's next possession.

After Iverson missed a driving layup, Walter McCarty missed a
3-pointer with 9.5 seconds left. Iverson then iced it with two free
throws.

"That's what we're trying to get to, play gritty, blue-collar
basketball," McKie said. "If we can do that, we can have a good
defensive team."

Iverson, back after missing one game with a knee injury, made
four of his last five shots and finished 8-for-25. He had a
team-high eight assists.

He missed a wide-open layup in the third quarter when it
appeared he couldn't decide whether to dunk or lay it in. A minute
later, Iverson made a dunk on a fast break.

The Celtics were coming off a loss to New Orleans on Wednesday
in which they scored a season-low 73 points. They had 66 points
through three quarters, but missed 16 of 24 shots in the fourth
quarter.

"Our offense stopped in the second half," Celtics coach Jim
O'Brien said. "We have to play the brand of basketball we've been
playing in first halves. I can't figure it out."

After a basket by Baker gave the Celtics a 68-65 lead to start
the fourth, the Sixers went on an 8-0 run and didn't trail again.
Iverson hit a 3-pointer to tie it and a jumper for a 71-68 lead.

Consecutive fast-break layups by McKie and Iverson extended
Philadelphia's lead to 83-75.

The Celtics took their biggest lead, 51-39, on a jumper by
Pierce that capped a 12-4 run with 7.5 seconds left in the first
half. John Salmons answered with his second straight 3-pointer
right before the buzzer to cut it to 51-42.

"I really don't understand it," Pierce said. "Some way,
somehow we play good first halves and then, in the third quarter,
we start to let teams back into games. We are not playing with a
sense of urgency for the whole 48 minutes."

Game notes
Through the first 12 games, Boston has not been involved in
a game in which 100 points were scored -- the longest such streak
for the Celtics since the start of the 1953-54 season. ... Robinson
has missed nine games with a sprained left ankle. Coleman has
missed five with a strained left knee. ... The Sixers have won 16
of their last 21 games against Boston. ... Eric Snow is the only
Sixers player to start all 13 games.