Suns Survive Sixers Scare


The Phoenix Suns' backcourt of Jason Kidd and Penny Hardaway wasn't awesome in its debut. It was good enough to beat the Philadelphia 76ers on a night when Allen Iverson's jumper was missing in action.

Kidd scored seven of his 22 points in the final 5:12 and Hardaway scored 18 as Phoenix recovered from an early fourth-quarter collapse Thursday night to win its home opener, 84-80 over the 76ers.

Rookie Shawn Marion added 16 for the Suns, who blew a nine-point lead at the start of the final period. Phoenix won despite 26 turnovers, thanks largely to Iverson's 4-for-20 shooting night.

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  • The 76ers led 77-72 with 6:02 to play, then didn't score again until George Lynch's layup with 7.4 seconds remaining.

    Kidd, matched against Iverson most of the game, made three of four free throws and grabbed a crucial offensive rebound in the final 51.1 seconds.

    "I thought Jason had a fantastic game defensively," Phoenix coach Danny Ainge said. "All the energy that you have to put out to defend Allen Iverson, then to go out and score 22 points, that's pretty impressive."

    Tyrone Hill scored 14 and Iverson 11 for Philadelphia. Lynch and Aaron McKie added 10 apiece. Eric Snow was 2-for-12, making the two starting 76ers guards a combined 6-for-32.

    "I've had games worse than this, and I'll have plenty more," Iverson said, "but it just hurts. Me and y teammates fought so hard to get back into it, then the shots at the end I've got to make and I didn't step up and make them."

    Hardaway, suspended for Tuesday's season opener for throwing a punch at Miami's Rex Walters in the preseason, was 5-for-14 from the field and 7-for-8 from the foul line. He scored nine in the third quarter as the Suns built a 68-59 lead.

    Hardaway said there wasn't any special feeling going against Iverson, who was widely credited with outplaying him in the 76ers' first-round sweep of Orlando in last season's playoffs.

    "I left all of that behind," Hardaway said. "I mean, I knew Philadelphia was going to be tough. I knew I wanted to come out and have a better showing than I did in the playoffs, but it wasn't like I was going to mark it on the calendar like `Hey, I owe these guys.' I know they're a great defensive team, and whatever you get off of them is a blessing."

    The 76ers outscored Phoenix 15-0 to start the final quarter and take a 74-68 lead on rookie Todd MacCulloch's rebound basket with 7:06 to play. Iverson, MacCulloch and Hill each scored four during the run. The Suns were 0-for-6 with four turnovers during that stretch.

    A 7-0 Suns run put them up for good 79-78. Kidd hit a jumper and two free throws, then Marion sank a 16-footer to make it 78-77. Tom Gugliotta, who missed four free throws down the stretch in the Suns' overtime loss in Denver on Tuesday, missed two with 3:26 to play, but Rodney Rogers made one of two with 2:30 remaining to put Phoenix up 79-77.

    "Allen is 4-for-20. Eric is 2-for-12 and Billy Owens is 1-for-8," 76ers coach Larry Brown said. "It's a miracle we were in the game. The guys played their hearts out."

    The Suns led 42-41 at halftime despite committing 17 turnovers in the first two quarters.

    Notes

  • Iverson was 2-for-10 in each half.
  • Hardaway had a spectacular block of Iverson's layup attempt in the first quarter.
  • Phoenix didn't play Philadelphia last season but has won 13 of 15 meetings between the teams.
  • The Suns showed a video spoof of the TV show "Friends" with a slimmed-down Oliver Miller, now playing for Phoenix, and The Gorilla mascot as best buddies. Last season, The Gorilla drew Miller's ire when he did a skit spoofing Miller's weight problem.
  • After getting 22 points and 17 rebounds in the season opener at Denver on Tuesday, Gugliotta scored five from the line and was 0-for-6 from the field.

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