Was it turn back the clock night in Philadelphia on Friday? It was shades of 2001 when Kobe and Iverson dueled in the NBA Finals. And on top of that, Elton Brand looked a few years younger as well. The first half was one of the most boring halves of basketball I've seen all year but the second half was electric. The Lakers led almost the entire game and won 99-91 but the score was not the story.
Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson put on a show in the second half. Each had just two points at halftime but made up for it in the third. Bryant scored 14 in the third including a fade away that he shot from behind the backboard. Iverson netted 15 and at one point he scored 11 points in a row for the 76ers. Included in that run were back-to-back three-pointers and a three-point play on a dribble drive where he got knocked by Fisher but still hit the shot as he was falling to the ground. If there were more moments like these for Iverson than his All-Star selection this year wouldn't be so ludicrous. But in the last two minutes of the third, Bryant took the task of guarding Iverson and shut him down. The two teams came to a 25-25 draw in the quarter as the Lakers led by nine.
In the fourth, Iverson scored six points but only two over the last eight minutes. That's because that's when Bryant was guarding him. Iverson is a half a step slower than he used to and that combined with Bryant's height advantage shut down the Answer. Kobe scored eight in the fourth and the Lakers held off the 76ers to win their third straight and improve to 4-2 with two games remaining on this road trip.
Aside from Iverson, Brand and Samuel Dalembert played really well. Brand had 19 points, nine rebounds, three blocks, steals and assists. Dalembert hit just two of seven shots but still managed a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds. He also added four blocks and three steals. Dalembert and Brand stifled Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum all night long. The two Laker bigs combined for just 25 points and 13 rebounds. That's eight points and six boards below their average. Aside from the Cavs, this was the best I've seen any team defend against the size of the Lakers. The 76ers even outrebounded them 44-36. If the 76ers could play like they did last night they would be a .500 team as opposed to where they stand now at 15-31.
Game Notes: Ron Artest carried the load early scoring 10 points in the first quarter. He finished with 18 points which is his highest total in over two months.