Hornets have no new plans to defend Iverson

PHILADELPHIA (AP)—The New Orleans Hornets insist their strategy for defending Allen Iverson is sound, despite evidence to the contrary in Game 1.

Iverson scored 55 points and made 21 of his 32 shots in Philadelphia’s 98-90 victory Sunday, but Hornets coach Paul Silas said his team doesn’t intend to change the way it plays him in Game 2 Wednesday night.

“I like our defensive philosophy; it’s solid, and it will work,” Silas said Tuesday. “I just have to feel that he won’t score that many, or be that hot. We’re not focusing on him as much as trying to stop everybody else, which I thought we did a good job of (Sunday).

“If he’s on fire like that Wednesday, there’s not much we can do.”

The Hornets used David Wesley against Iverson in Game 1, electing not to double-team the three-time NBA scoring champion. Iverson took advantage with penetrating drives and open jumpers off screens.

Iverson said it doesn’t matter how the Hornets try to guard him.

“I would love for them to play me the way they did the last game,” he said. “If they play me one-on-one, that’s what I’d want. But if they double, I want that too, because it makes it easier on my teammates. Hopefully, they’ll come in with a cocky attitude and try to play me man-on-man, but I’ll be ready for whatever they try. It’s all adjusting to whatever they do.”

Sixers coach Larry Brown figures the Hornets will makes some adjustments, but he doesn’t think they will limit Iverson.

“I’m sure they’ll come up with something that will give them a chance to win,” Brown said. “But from my perspective, Allen has seen it all. People have been stacking their defense to stop him for six years and not had success, because whatever you do, you can’t stop him in the open court.”

New Orleans had no success against Iverson, but the Hornets effectively shut down the rest of the 76ers, especially their frontcourt. Starters Keith Van Horn, Kenny Thomas and Derrick Coleman combined for just 11 points.

“I don’t think there are going to be too many games where the three of us combine for 11 points, in this series or in the rest of the playoffs,” Van Horn said. “I think that obviously they are going to key more on Allen. They are going to try and do a better job of stopping him, and it’s going to give myself and some of the frontcourt guys an opportunity to step up and make some plays.”

Despite Iverson’s performance, the Hornets stayed close and had a chance to win in the final minute. But a turnover by Baron Davis with 25 seconds left sealed the loss.

“We feel good that, even after (Iverson) scored those points, we were only down 94-90,” Wesley said. “He shot the ball well. He’s a career 40-percent shooter, and you don’t expect him to shoot 60 or 70 percent shooting jumpers like that. If they are going to rely on that, we’ve got to feel good about our chances.”

The Hornets, however, could be without Davis, who didn’t practice again on Tuesday because of a bone bruise in his left knee. Hobbled by the injury in the opener, Davis had 10 points, six assists and six turnovers in 37 minutes.

If Davis doesn’t play, Silas said he probably will start George Lynch. The Hornets were 19-13 without Davis in the regular season, including an eight-game winning streak Feb. 19 through March 7.

“I’m looking for a little more strength and a little more mobility, and hopefully the doctor will clear me to play,” Davis said. “If I can give 10 to 20 good minutes, I want to be on the floor.”

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 New Orleans
J. Mashburn J. Mashburn
8-21,  28 Pts
5 Rebs, 4 Assists
 Philadelphia
A. Iverson A. Iverson
21-32,  55 Pts
4 Rebs, 8 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists