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Celtics Spoil the Return of Iverson

April 22, 2002|From Associated Press

The Boston Celtics' return to the playoffs was much better than Allen Iverson's.

The Celtics won their first postseason game since 1995, beating Iverson's Philadelphia 76ers, 92-82, Sunday in the opener of their best-of-five Eastern Conference series as last season's league most valuable player missed 11 of 15 field-goal attempts at Boston.

Iverson missed the 76ers' final 14 games of the regular season after breaking his left hand, which was heavily bandaged Sunday.

Paul Pierce led the way for Boston with 31 points, 11 rebounds, four steals and three blocked shots.

Iverson, who led the league in scoring average at 31.4 points, said his hand felt fine. And he did lead the 76ers with 20 points. But his only field goals came in the first quarter, when he had 15 points, and he missed his last nine shots.

"I was just playing like I usually play. I didn't think a whole bunch about" the hand, he said. "I'm cool. I can run forever."

Game 2 is Thursday night at Boston.

"You're anxious to get back out on the court, even though we won, just to get back in that atmosphere," Pierce said. "I could do this every day."

The Celtics led throughout the last three quarters and by double figures for the last 18 minutes.

"We weren't playing with any organization at all," Philadelphia Coach Larry Brown said. "The Celtics were so far superior to us in terms of preparation and execution, it wasn't even close."

Detroit 85, Toronto 63--The Pistons and Raptors got off to an ugly start. The game didn't get much prettier, although the Pistons finished strong.

Ben Wallace had 19 points, 20 rebounds, three blocked shots and three steals as Detroit won the opening game in the series at Auburn Hills, Mich.

The Pistons and Raptors combined for only 25 points in the first quarter as Detroit led, 16-9, tying the NBA playoff record for fewest combined points in a first quarter.

"We struggled early on the offensive end, but our defense carried us through like it has all season," Wallace said.

The Raptors managed only 11 points in the third quarter and fell behind by as many as 29. Toronto shot only 29.9% and had its lowest point total in three postseason appearances.

"We were in a fog," Toronto Coach Lenny Wilkens said. "The best part is, it's a five-game series. We'll be ready, believe me."

Game 2 is Wednesday at Auburn Hills.

Jerry Stackhouse led Detroit in scoring with 20 points. Antonio Davis led the Raptors with 15 points.

Dallas 101, Minnesota 94--No matter how carefree and quirky the Mavericks play on offense, they usually don't rely on halfcourt shots and banked-in three-pointers.

They did this time.

Steve Nash sank a 40-footer as the third quarter ended, then Raef LaFrentz opened the fourth with a kiss off the glass from the top of the key, sparking a 12-0 run that carried the Mavericks at Dallas.

It also put the Timberwolves into an 0-1 hole in a best-of-five series for the sixth consecutive postseason. Minnesota has yet to dig out of one, getting eliminated in the first round five consecutive years.

"It was a huge momentum swing," Kevin Garnett, who had 19 points, 21 rebounds and six assists for the Timberwolves, said of the shots by Nash and LaFrentz.

'' Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 30 points and 15 rebounds. Chauncey Billups led the Timberwolves with 25 points and nine assists.

The stat sheet showed the game could have gone Minnesota's way. The Timberwolves had 19 more rebounds, outscored the Mavericks, 26-2, on second-chance points and had a 24-6 edge on fastbreak points.

"You look at that and it looks like we won," Billups said. "But they made some big shots."

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