76ers Prevail After Iverson Gets The Hook When The Star Rookie Failed To Hustle Back On Defense, Coach Johnny Davis Pulled Him.

Posted: November 30, 1996

The 76ers defeated the Orlando Magic, 100-91, last night for their sixth victory. That in itself was something, considering that the Sixers got their sixth win last season on Jan. 2.

But the Sixers, now 6-8 and set to play a very beatable Vancouver tonight, also did something else. They showed the world that they can win against a decent NBA team with a healthy Allen Iverson sitting on the bench and watching.

The Sixers played almost a minute of the third quarter and all of the fourth at the CoreStates Center with Iverson benched and backup Doug Overton handling the point-guard chores.

Overton, who averaged 7.3 minutes in the six games he appeared in before last night, labored admirably. He played 17 minutes, scoring nine points and handing out four assists. He was not spectacular, but he was steady. Still, when asked if it surprised him that he had played the whole fourth quarter, he said: ``It did.''

``I kept looking over, waiting for Allen to come in and finish up,'' he said. ``I just want to let them know you can spell him. I'm not going to come in and do anything crazy.''

Iverson was benched after his fifth turnover of the third quarter.

``It shocked me,'' said Iverson, who nonetheless was the first one to congratulate Overton after the game. ``It definitely shocked me.

Again, as he had against Cleveland and the Los Angeles Lakers, Iverson had a splendid first half, collecting five rebounds, eight assists, three steals and 12 points. But in the third quarter, things went a bit haywire, and the Magic climbed back into contention.

After Iverson's fifth turnover of the quarter, as the rookie paced around at one end of the court, coach Johnny Davis was urging: ``Allen, come play defense. Come play defense.''

Iverson walked upcourt, a scowl on his face. Within seconds, he was sitting, and Overton was in the game.

``My man didn't score,'' Iverson said, when asked about the incident. ``I know my speed better than [Davis] does. I got back. It wasn't like I wasn't playing defense.''

Davis, questioned repeatedly, continued to say that Iverson's reaction had nothing to do with the benching.

``Doug was playing better at that point,'' Davis said, claiming that he had not been sending his stellar rookie a message.

For the most part, Iverson took his benching with team-oriented equanimity.

``I got benched,'' he said. ``Apparently, I wasn't producing. Apparently, it was a good decision to bench me, because we came out with a victory. I don't have any problem with Coach Davis' decision.''

In fact, Derrick Coleman, who had another solid night, totaling 19 points, nine rebounds and five assists, said the benching of Iverson and the elevation, at least temporarily, of Overton might have been good for the team.

``Right now, Doug is ahead of Allen because he's better at decision-making,'' Coleman said. ``He's a point guard.''

And Don MacLean, who scored 10 points in 17 minutes, said it's important for the team to understand that it can hold together and win no matter who is in the game.

``The best thing is, guys on this team are not selfish,'' he said. ``They're not whining and moaning. We're going to need everybody by the time this year is over.''

Jerry Stackhouse, who scored 16 points in 44 minutes, said much the same thing.

``You never know who you'll need later in the season,'' he said. ``No one has to have a big game every night.''

Iverson did not whine or moan. Instead, he said he would ``go home and think about what mistakes I might have made to get me benched.''

When asked whether it was the first benching of his basketball career, he laughed and said: ``Yeah.''

``It doesn't mean anything, because we won,'' he said. ``Maybe if he had stayed with me, we wouldn't have come out with a victory. I don't believe that.''

Davis was adamant in saying the team would continue to go with whatever is working best on the court, regardless of egos.

``I was just comfortable with Doug at that point,'' he said. ``In an 82-game season, it is going to depend on a lot of players to step up and get the job done.''

But Overton said that there was a message being sent by Davis and that the message was simple.

``I think the message is that everybody has got to be ready,'' he said.

comments powered by Disqus