Spurs Slip Past Sixers


Twins Towers are still better than a one-man show.

Tim Duncan and David Robinson overwhelmed the 76ers and overshadowed a dazzling effort by Allen Iverson as the San Antonio Spurs beat Philadelphia 94-91 Monday night.

Duncan had 26 points and 17 rebounds, and Robinson had 19 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocks. The Spurs had a season-high 15 blocks, all but three from their two 7-footers, and survived Iverson's 35 points on 34 shots.

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  • "When you have one guy who takes 30 shots, it makes it tough down the stretch on the other guys," Robinson said. "You look at their lineup, they don't have a lot of huge guys. They fight their tails off for 48 minutes, but eventually you get worn down."

    On a night when the Spurs overwhelmed the Sixers with their size, the decisive basket came from the shortest player on the court. Five-foot-10 Avery Johnson scored on a layup off a pass from Duncan to give the Spurs a 90-89 lead with 29 seconds left.

    "We watched people like Utah do that all the time on us when we were struggling," said Johnson, who had six points. "I kind of took that from Jeff Hornacek. He makes little cuts like that, little back-door plays that kind of break your back in situations like that.

    "Any time you can get an easy bucket to put a dagger in a team's back, that's what you try to do."

    In a fitting finale to a playoff-like game, Robinson blocked a leaner by Larry Hughes and Duncan grabbed the rebound and hit two free throws to make it 92-89 with 14 seconds left.

    Iverson, who missed 21 of 34 shots, made an uncontested layup with 10 seconds left before Mario Elie went 1-of-2 from the line to make it 93-91 San Antonio with 7.1 seconds left.

    Iverson blew past Johnson in his attempt to tie it, but Duncan who had five blocks got in the way as Iverson missed a driving, one-handed shot high off the glass.

    "Allen came into the dressing room and said, 'I'll make that shot 10 out of 10 times,"' Eric Snow said.

    Billy Owens' 3-point attempt was short for the 76ers and wouldn't have counted because it came after the buzzer.

    Elie had 12 points for the Spurs, who won their second straight after losing two of three. George Lynch and Larry Hughes each scored 15 for the Sixers, who got little offense from anyone else. Theo Ratliff missed his first nine shots and had two points and five rebounds against the Twin Towers.

    "That was a pretty sensational performance by two outstanding players," Sixers coach Larry Brown said.

    Iverson left the arena with a jammed thumb and a closed mouth. He did not talk with reporters, but the Spurs didn't have to guess who was shooting the ball for the Sixers down the stretch.

    "Beyond a shadow of a doubt, no matter what kind of play they run or decoys they run, you know the ball is going to end up in his hands," Johnson said.

    While Duncan continues to shy away from being called the NBA's best player, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich isn't hesistant to use that label. He compared Duncan with Larry Bird and Michael Jordan.

    "He's one of the all-time great competitors," Popovich said. "He's of the same mold as Larry and Michael. He competes on every play."

    Iverson had 14 points in an assertive third quarter, scoring seven quick points immediately after screaming at referee Jack Nies, "I need to go to the line one time tonight, Jack! One time!"

    After a timeout, Iverson coasted in for a layup, ducking under Duncan while in the air and flipping the ball in to cut San Antonio's lead to 63-62 with 1:54 left in the quarter. He followed with two free throws and a three-point play, blowing past Jaren Jackson and drawing Malik Rose's fourth foul. He sank the free throw to make it 67-63 at the end of the third.

    Iverson made the move of the night in the first quarter, dribbling behind his back to himself and driving for a layup against Robinson. Iverson switched from his left hand to his right as he approached the 3-point circle, went behind his back right-handed to freeze Robinson and coasted to the rim for a 16-15 lead.

    Notes

  • Comedian Bill Cosby attended the game and entertained the crowd by shooting T-shirts into the stands with a giant sling shot during the second quarter.
  • Duncan played his 144th consecutive game. He has not missed a game in his three-year career.
  • Rose, from Philadelphia's Overbrook High School and Drexel University, had about 34 friends and family at the game.
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