Looking Like Junkyard Dogs

CHICAGO TRIBUNE

This NBA Finals was supposed to be over before it started.

After all, the Los Angeles Lakers hadn't lost coming into the Finals, and the only thing anyone could say about the Philadelphia 76ers was that no one had lost a limb coming into the Finals.

But after 48 minutes, the game still wasn't over.

League MVP Allen Iverson scored seven of Philadelphia's 13 overtime points on his way to the sixth-best NBA Finals scoring performance with 48 points, leading his team to a 107-101 victory.

Shaquille O'Neal scored 44 and added 20 rebounds for the Lakers. Kobe Bryant managed only 15 points.

The Lakers, crawling back from a 15-point third quarter deficit after Iverson shocked them with 30 points in the first half, survived a last-second 76ers chance and went into overtime tied 94-94.

For the Lakers, it was O'Neal exerting his dominance in the third quarter to get them back in the game. Then it was Lakers' coach Phil Jackson employing backup guard Tyron Lue, whose primary duty had been imitating Iverson in Lakers' practices, to shadow Iverson, who didn't score in the last 10 minutes of regulation.

The Lakers trailed at halftime, 56-50. That was the same score the 76ers had against the Bucks at halftime of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.

"They just came off a seven-game series," Bryant said, defying the conventional wisdom of giving the 76ers a chance. "Their rhythm [was] still there. Us having nine days off, we [were] a little rusty."

Like cars in a junkyard.

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