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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

76ers Rally From 22 Point Deficit to Beat Suns

The Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Phoenix Suns 103-100 in an NBA Europe Live Tour game played in Cologne, Germany. The contest was part of a four team mini-tournament; CSKA Moskow beat Maccabi Tel Aviv 90-81 in the other bracket and will face the 76ers in the championship game, while Phoenix will battle Maccabi Tel Aviv for third place honors. Allen Iverson led the 76ers with 29 points and five assists in just 30 minutes of playing time. Kyle Korver added 20 points and seven rebounds, Chris Webber had 17 points and four rebounds and rookie Rodney Carney contributed 14 points, seven rebounds and the game winning three pointer. Shawn Marion topped Phoenix with 25 points and he also had eight rebounds. Leandro Barbosa scored 20 points but shot only 6-17 from the floor, while Steve Nash had 15 points and nine assists. Boris Diaw nearly had a triple double: 10 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists.

NBA TV's recent report that Amare Stoudemire might not see action until January turned out to be about as accurate as the reports that Joe Torre would be fired by George Steinbrenner. Stoudemire did not start but scored six points and grabbed six rebounds in 19 minutes of playing time. He entered the game at the 7:26 mark in the first quarter and travelled the first time he touched the ball. Samuel Dalembert blocked Stoudemire's first shot attempt, an awkward looking layup; Stoudemire took off on the right baseline and probably would have gone for a dunk before his injury but instead flipped the ball toward the hoop. He scored his first points by grabbing an offensive rebound and delivering a two-hand dunk, albeit without his trademark explosiveness. Stoudemire played until the end of the first quarter and then returned to the bench. He made his presence felt during his second, briefer tour of duty near the end of the second quarter with another offensive rebound followed by a stronger, more authoritative one-hand dunk.

Stoudemire returned to the game with 4:46 remaining in the third quarter. Less than a minute later he caught the ball at the free throw line, drove to the hoop, spun and tried an up and under move, missing the shot. He was able to tap the offensive rebound and Phoenix retained possession. Later, Stoudemire grabbed a couple defensive rebounds and committed an offensive foul on another awkward looking drive. He scored his only second half points with a one-hand dunk off of a nice pick and roll play with Raja Bell, by far Stoudemire's strongest and most confident looking move of the game. Each of his previous moves to the hoop looked slow and tentative, but he did seem to get more aggressive and confident as the game went on. Stoudemire finished with five turnovers and four fouls. Granted, not too much should be read into any preseason game, let alone one that marks his first appearance in an NBA game in quite some time, but suffice it to say that Stoudemire appears to be nowhere close to the form that he displayed before he injured his knee.

Iverson did most of his damage early in the game, making six of his first seven shots both from the field and the free throw line and scoring 18 first quarter points. Despite his efforts, Phoenix led 34-28. Iverson finished the first half with 23 points, including a three pointer at the buzzer that trimmed Phoenix' lead to 61-52. Marion led Phoenix with his typically "quiet" 20 points.

Phoenix used a relentless fast break attack to push their advantage to 80-58 midway through the quarter and seemed to have matters well in hand but Philadelphia trimmed the deficit to 89-75 by the end of the period. As Marv Albert might say, they were "showing some signs." Those "signs" were flashing neon bright before long, as Phoenix' offense completely fell apart, producing only 11 fourth quarter points. Korver's two free throws tied the score at 91 with 5:40 left. Nash immediately countered with a long two point jumper and the score remained close for the rest of the game. Carney made his decisive three pointer with 10.5 seconds left, putting Philadelphia up 102-100. Barbosa missed a three pointer on the next possession and Rick Brunson closed out the scoring by making one of two free throws.


**A funny moment occurred at the end of the third quarter. Korver attempted a shot that did not beat the shot clock buzzer, so Phoenix should have gotten the ball with about one second left. The clock showed triple zeroes and the officials went to the scorer's table to straighten things out but after a brief discussion everyone basically gave up trying to reset the clock and decided to move on to the fourth quarter. ESPN2's Mike Breen laughingly noted that this would not happen in a regular season game and the Phoenix coaching staff seemed much more amused than perturbed by the glitch.

**ESPN actually spent the cash to have its commentators at this event, in contrast to the FIBA World Championships, when Jim Durham and Fran Fraschilla did voiceovers from Bristol, Connecticut. Bill Walton and Mike Breen did the typical pre-game standup that is standard fare on most NBA broadcasts but was absent during NBA TV's coverage of NBA Europe Live Tour games; during one of the telecasts, NBA TV's Rick Kamla and Bill Raftery certainly gave the impression that they were in the arena but if so they have become awfully camera shy, since they did not appear on screen once.

posted by David Friedman @ 1:49 AM


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