76ers Fade At Finish, Lose By 8 To Hornets Allen Iverson's 28 Points Triggered A Comeback, But Glen Rice's Play Was Too Much To Overcome.

Posted: April 01, 1998

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The 76ers were forced to play without their starting center. Their best shooter went scoreless in the first half. They spotted their opponents 20 points. And still they took a lead into the final quarter.

The valiant effort last night was entertaining, but it was ultimately in vain. The odds were too much to overcome.

The Sixers got a game-high 28 points from Allen Iverson. But all-star forward Glen Rice ended up being more than the Sixers could handle, scoring 26 points to help Charlotte hold on for a 101-93 win in front of 23,831 fans at the Charlotte Coliseum.

The win was the Hornets' 12th straight against the Sixers on their home floor and their eighth straight against Philadelphia overall. It also ended a two-game losing streak for Charlotte (46-25), which handed coach Dave Cowens his 100th career coaching victory.

The Sixers (26-46) have now lost six of their last seven.

``We missed some opportunities down the stretch,'' Sixers coach Larry Brown said. ``But I'm proud of my guys for the way they came back.''

If he was ashamed of the way they played in the first quarter, it would be understandable.

Rice had dropped 40 points on them the last time they visited Charlotte, but the Sixers couldn't keep him from getting going again.

They made fools of Brown, who thought they could play defense without Theo Ratliff (out with knee inflammation), but that was before they yielded 10 straight shots without a miss by Charlotte to open the game.

They made liars of anyone who believed they would retaliate with an offense of their own, falling behind, 32-12, just 9 minutes, 43 seconds into the game (while getting a scoreless first half from Tim Thomas).

And they made a mistake - for the first time in months - by continuing to go to Derrick Coleman, who finished with 12 points (4-of-18 shooting) and simply didn't have it last night.

With 2:17 left in the opening quarter, Coleman had missed as many shots (six) as the entire Hornets squad. Rice (12 points) and Bobby Phills (14 points) had as many points as the entire Sixers team. And a blowout seemed imminent.

The Sixers did come out of their doldrums, allowing their abominable play to last just one quarter.

``Actually, we allowed it,'' said Rice, who finished with 10-of-18 shooting. ``We allowed it because we got complacent, didn't run our offense the way we're capable of doing, and just let up a little bit. It definitely wasn't anything defensively that they did to us. Please!''

It happened offensively, though, because Iverson decided to take over.

Benched along with every other starter but Coleman because of lethargic play, Iverson sparked a second-quarter onslaught, scoring 13 points and finishing the half for the Sixers with a layup for the highlight reels.

Using his patented crossover dribble, Iverson froze former Sixers guard Vernon Maxwell, blew by Maxwell - who scratched his head without looking at Iverson - then drove to the basket on Hornets center Matt Geiger, turned his back to the rim, and put in an over-the-head layup.

Thomas came alive in the third quarter, scoring 15 of his 19 points in the quarter to give the Sixers a 77-73 lead entering the fourth.

``But we just didn't have enough in the end,'' Sixers guard Aaron McKie said. ``And they made plays.''

Down, 88-84, with 6:29 left in regulation, the Hornets dealt vicious blows that would finish the Sixers.

A layup from Dell Curry, two free throws from Vlade Divac, another score from Rice, and then a jumper from David Wesley (18 points, 10 assists) sparked an 11-1 run that put the Hornets up, 95-89, with 2:58 left in the game.

The only things left in the Sixers' arsenal were forced jumpers by Iverson, missed free throws by Coleman, and sporadic play from the rest.

``Our chemistry wasn't there at the beginning,'' said Iverson, who shot 12 of 24 from the field. ``The early substitutions helped us, but not in the end.''

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