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Sixers have the Answer

Allen Iverson hits 52 as Philly routs the Raptors 121-88.

©Associated Press

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 17, 2001


PHILADELPHIA -- Allen Iverson stared directly into Vince Carter's eyes, seemingly toying with him. He faked to his left, then to the right, continued to dribble, shuffled back and nailed a three-pointer over Carter's outstretched arm.

It was that easy for Iverson on Wednesday night.

The NBA's Most Valuable Player scored 52 points, including 29 in the first half, as the 76ers beat the Raptors 121-88 to take a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinal series.

"To me, (the basket) looked like an ocean," said Iverson, who sprained his left thumb during the game. X-rays on the thumb were negative.

Game 6 is Friday in Toronto.

Carter scored 16 and Antonio Davis added 14 for the Raptors, who trail for the first time in the series.

Carter left early in the fourth quarter when he was hit in the head by 76ers center Dikembe Mutombo, but said he has just a "major headache." Mutombo broke his pinkie and is listed as day-to-day.

"I'll be ready (Friday)," Carter said.

Aaron McKie had 19 and nine assists, and Mutombo added 14 points and nine rebounds for the Sixers.

From the moment NBA commissioner David Stern presented Iverson with the MVP trophy before the game, the night belonged to the Sixers.

Philadelphia scored the first 11 points, held the Raptors scoreless for 4:04 to start the game, led 17-4 midway through the first and 33-12 after one quarter.

Toronto never got closer than 17 in the last three quarters. The Raptors shot 53 percent in the first half, but trailed 62-40.

"They were ready; we weren't," Raptors coach Lenny Wilkens said. "We were awful."

Iverson, who scored a career-high 54 points in Game 2 of the series, displayed all his weapons, especially his three-point shooting. He finished 21-of-32, including 8-of-14 from beyond the arc.

"People say I have a flaw in my game -- I'm not able to make the outside shot," Iverson said. "My whole thing is to punish people when they back up off me."

Iverson stopped and popped, penetrated with slashing drives, hurled his spindly body all over the court and faked defenders with regularity.

He hit a three-pointer for his last shot, missed three straight threes and took himself out of the game with 4:45 left.

"The Little Kid is playing like the Most Valuable Player," Sixers coach Larry Brown said. "He's playing at a high level on both ends of the floor."

The Sixers built a 25-point lead in the second quarter with Iverson scoring 17 points and hitting four three-pointers. Two of his threes came right after Dell Curry hit a three-pointer for Toronto.

Iverson made a three-pointer while falling out of bounds early in the third, hit a long jumper as Chris Childs knocked him to the floor, then put a move on Alvin Williams that left the Raptors guard mumbling to himself.

Iverson took a pass, jab-stepped, dribbled behind his back and hit a long jumper in Williams' face. He ran down the court, yelling at Jerome Williams, who was waiting to enter the game.

Philadelphia's Jumaine Jones, starting the first game of his career in place of injured George Lynch, had nine points and was an offensive spark in the opening minutes.

Jones began the game with an assist on a basket by Iverson, made a three-pointer then hit a jumper. He electrified the crowd with a reverse slam on an alley-oop pass from Iverson that made it 13-4.

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