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Iverson scores 39; Payton ejected

2/6/2004

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- After ripping his team for having no heart,
Allen Iverson showed they still have a pulse.

Iverson played one of his better offensive games of the season
Thursday night, scoring 39 points to lead the struggling
Philadelphia 76ers past the weary and depleted Los Angeles Lakers
96-73.

In a game that stayed competitive for only a few minutes,
Iverson had his way against defender Derek Fisher and repeatedly
freed himself for mid-range jumpers and drives.

Iverson shot 15-for-29 from the field -- missing his final four
shots -- and added six assists in one of the 76ers' most lopsided
victories of the season and the Lakers' largest margin of defeat.

"I tried to make sure I led by example," Iverson said. "I saw
guys were trying to get things done the right way."

The Lakers, playing their fourth road game in five nights and
extra tired after arriving in Philadelphia around 4 a.m., lost Gary
Payton to an ejection in a first quarter in which they scored just
10 points -- matching their season low set earlier this week at
Indiana.

Shaquille O'Neal missed 11 of 13 foul shots in the first half,
finishing 3-for-15 from the line with 17 points.

"We just had dead legs tonight. It was just obvious we didn't
have any zip out there at all," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.
"This is not a low point. They're not depressed about it. They
just had a bad game. Shaq couldn't make any free throws, they lose
Gary ...

"We're not going into the woods to fight a bear with a switch.
That wasn't going to happen out there tonight."

The Lakers were supposed to be joined by Kobe Bryant, who is on
the injured list with a lacerated finger. But Bryant defied coach
Jackson and did not show up, leaving the team wondering about his
whereabouts until shortly before gametime.

Bryant's agent told the Lakers that Bryant would join them in
Orlando on the fifth stop of their seven-game road trip.

Glenn Robinson added 26 points for the 76ers, who were ripped by
Iverson two nights ago following a loss to Toronto -- their ninth in
11 games.

"We don't play with no heart, we don't take a challenge,"
Iverson said during a 10-minute rant. "Guys don't take pride and
compete."

After shooting off his mouth, it became clear early that Iverson
might be capable of shooting the Sixers out of their slump.

He scored six points over the final 1:05 of the first quarter to
help Philadelphia to a 25-10 lead.

"I hope it didn't take that," Iverson said of his public
outburst. "If it did, I'm happy that it worked. Guys came out and
played hard.

"I haven't seen that energetic flavor from us in a while."

The opening 12 minutes featured the quick ejection of Payton by
referee Joey Crawford for arguing while Iverson shot free throws.

Payton did not comment after the game, nor did O'Neal.

"I'm not going to talk about it. It's too irritating to talk
about it," Jackson said of Payton's ejection.

The Sixers led 44-29 at halftime behind 20 points from Iverson,
and he reached 30 points with 3:35 left in the third quarter by
losing Fisher with a crossover dribble and hitting a 21-footer.
Samuel Dalembert followed with a dunk off a pass from Robinson to
give Philadelphia a 71-44 lead.

Iverson sat down for good with 4:02 remaining and the 76ers
ahead 89-66.

Game notes
Explaining why he ejected Payton, Crawford told Jackson
that Payton was arguing with one of the other referees -- "my
teammate," Crawford said. ... The Lakers have lost in six of their
last seven visits to Philadelphia. ... The teams wore retro
uniforms from the 1960s, the Sixers in red, white and blue and the
Lakers in blue and white. Most of the 76ers wore headbands, too.
... Crawford gave Robinson a technical in the fourth quarter for
hanging on the rim after a dunk. ... Sixers F Kenny Thomas sprained
his right ankle early in the fourth quarter and did not return. He
will undergo an MRI on Friday. ... The 76ers drew their fifth
sellout crowd (20,965).