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Pistons smother Iverson

76ers star unable to get Philly going against Detroit

Knight Ridder Newspapers

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- As Allen Iverson left the podium after another miserable defeat Tuesday night, he ran into his old coach.

The two, Iverson in his sweated-through jersey and Larry Brown in his dapper suit, shook hands and embraced. Brown said a few words, and Iverson walked down the hallway, escorted by a police guard. It may well have been Iverson's last trip to the Palace this season.

The 76ers lost again, and again, it was a blowout. This time it was 99-84; combined, they've lost two games by 36 points.

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"This has been rough," Iverson said. "The whole series, I mean, we just can't stop them. That's it. We've got to come up with something, some new scheme, some new idea. We just can't stop them. Whenever we need stops, to try to cut into the lead, whenever we get the lead down a little bit, they score on us. If we don't get stops, we can't beat them."

The thing is, the Sixers just spent two days scheming and planning -- and still nothing worked. They didn't panic; they didn't come into Game 2 with drastic changes in mind. Just good, clean defense, the kind that enabled them to win eight of their last 10 games and get into this first-round series with Detroit. Crash the boards, get the rebound, get out on the break and feed a gunner like Kyle Korver; try to look like a team that isn't anchored solely by Iverson and Chris Webber.

Instead, they looked anchorless. Iverson shot 7-for-24 and scored 19 points and made 10 assists. Webber had 15 points and four rebounds, giving him seven rebounds for the series. He spoke for several minutes after the game, but didn't have any answers.

"Right now," Webber said, "I'm really at a loss for words."

Now the Sixers go back home, with another two days to tinker, another two days to avoid being toyed with.

"You hope you can go home and use the energy of your home court to play better basketball, to get a little shot in the arm," Sixers coach Jim O'Brien said. "They held their advantage at home and it's our job to go out and get Game 3 back at Wachovia Center."

The Sixers had job assignments in Game 2, though. They wanted to get out on the break, because this is how Iverson dominates. But again they got out-rebounded, and those fast break points only added up to 10.

The Sixers just can't overcome the Pistons' athleticism.

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