Today in Philly Sports History: Sixers Beat Bucks to Advance to Finals, 2001

Today in Philly Sports History: Sixers Beat Bucks to Advance to Finals, 2001

After what has been, to say the least, a somewhat trying season for Allen Iverson--a season in which everything from his current abilities, to his desire to win, and even to his overall basketball legacy has been questioned--it's important, as a fictional mobster wiser than myself once said, to remember the times that were good. And it's hard to find a time much better for Sixer fans in the Iverson era than Game 7 of the 2001 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. With the series with the Milwaukee Bucks knotted at 3-3, the 2001 MVP poured in 44 points (three points off Sam Jones's playoff record for a game seven) to go with seven assists, six boards and a pair of steals, leading the Sixers, in front of a riotous First Union Center crowd, to their first trip to the NBA finals since they took home the title in 1983--and somewhat needless to say, their last trip there to date.

Iverson was far from the only important factor in the team's decisive 108-91 victory, however. Mid-season acquisition and Defensive Player of the Year Dikembe Mutombo also had arguably his finest game of the playoffs, going for a near 20-20 with his 23 points and 19 boards, and throwing in seven blocks just for the hell of it. Sixth Man of the Year (and current Sixers assistant coach) Aaron McKie, starting this time out, added a double-double with his ten points and 13 assists, as did veteran forward Tyrone Hill, who went for 11 points and ten rebounds. Most unexpected, however, were the contributions of the then-unknown rookie Raja Bell, who got ten off the bench in the first half--twice as many points as he scored the entire regular season. The Bucks' big three of Ray Allen, Sam Cassell and Glenn Robinson all performed decently, scoring in the 20s, but aside from them and bench scorer Tim Thomas, no one else on the Bucks added more than four points.

Thanks to the impressively dedicated contributions of user Pacho17, Game 7 can now be viewed in its entirety (well, its entirety in 11 separate parts) on YouTube, but some highlights just from watching the last part, embedded above:

  • Iverson doing his trademarked ear-cupping gesture as he gets taken out of the game, then emotionally embracing Larry Brown and Tyrone Hill.
  • Then-Bucks, Now-Nuggets coach George Karl actually having a decent amount of hair and looking remarkably similar to Frasier Crane. 
  • Mama Iverson: "I'm so proud of you!"
  • Matt Cord: "Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for the Milwaukee Bucks, on a spectacular playoff run!" He might not have intended it to sound so boastfully sarcastic, but no way could he have honestly expected the crowd to cheer.
  • Dike and AI hoisting the Eastern Conference Championship trophy together (despite the six foot difference in height between the two), to "BEAT! L! A!" chants in the background.

Gonna be tough to top that anytime soon.

NHL Playoffs: Penguins beat Senators in 2OT of Game 7 to reach Stanley Cup Final

NHL Playoffs: Penguins beat Senators in 2OT of Game 7 to reach Stanley Cup Final

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins are heading back to the Stanley Cup Final.

Chris Kunitz beat Craig Anderson 5:09 into the second overtime to give the defending champions a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final Thursday night.

Kunitz scored twice, his first two of the playoffs. Justin Schultz added the other in his return from an upper-body injury, and Matt Murray stopped 28 shots on his 23rd birthday.

The Penguins are trying to become the first team since the Detroit Red Wings in 1998 to win back-to-back titles. They will host Western Conference champion Nashville in Game 1 on Monday night.

Mark Stone and Ryan Dzingel scored for Ottawa. The Senators rallied twice to tie it, with Dzingel making it 2-2 with 5:19 left in regulation.

Craig Anderson made 39 saves, but couldn't get a handle on Kunitz's shot from just outside the left circle. The Senators are 0-6 in Game 7s in franchise history.

The Senators forced a return trip to Pittsburgh -- where they lost 7-0 loss in Game 5 on Sunday -- by leaning heavily on Anderson in a 2-1 Game 6 victory, putting both teams at odds with history.

Ottawa came in 0-for-25 years in winner-take-all games, while the Penguins were 0-7 in Game 7s at home in series in which they also dropped Game 6.

Ottawa coach Guy Boucher told his resilient team to not get caught up in the big picture but instead focus on the small ones, a recipe that carried the Senators throughout a bumpy transition under their first-year head coach to the brink of the franchise's second Cup appearance.

The Penguins, trying to become the first defending champion to return to the finals since Detroit in 2009, came in confident they would advance if they could replicate their dominant Game 6, when they were undone only by Anderson's brilliance.

Pittsburgh has been nearly unflappable in the face of adversity under Mike Sullivan, going 12-2 in playoff games following a loss over the last two springs. He encouraged his team to "just play," code for fighting through Ottawa's neutral zone-clogging style and the bumping, grabbing and pulling that comes along with it.

A chance to play for their sport's ultimate prize on the line, the sheets of open ice the Penguins found so easily in Games 4-6 closed up. For most of the first 30 minutes, loose pucks hopped over sticks to spoil some scoring opportunities while Anderson and Murray gobbled up the rest.

Kunitz, relegated to the fourth line since returning from injury in the second round, picked up his first postseason goal in a calendar year when he completed a two-on-one with Conor Sheary -- a healthy scratch in Games 5 and 6 -- by slipping the puck by Anderson 9:55 into the second period.

The momentum lasted all of 20 seconds. Ottawa responded immediately with Stone -- who stretched his left skate to stay onside -- fired a wrist shot that handcuffed Murray.

Pittsburgh kept coming. Schultz, returning after missing four games with an upper-body injury, zipped a shot from the point through Kunitz's screen and into the net with 8:16 left in the third.

Once again, the Penguins could not hold the lead. Dzingel set up at the right post and banged home a rebound off Erik Karlsson's shot that hit the left post and caromed off Murray's back right to Dzingel's stick.

Notes
The home team is 21-20 in overtime Game 7s in NHL playoff history. ... Pittsburgh F Patric Hornqvist skated during warmups, but was held out of the lineup for a sixth straight game with an upper-body injury. ... Karlsson had 16 assists in the playoffs to set a team record. ... The Penguins are 10-7 in Game 7s. ... It was the fifth one-goal game of the series.

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick experienced a painful rehab start on Thursday night.

Rehabbing with Triple A Lehigh Valley, Kendrick was hit by a pitch twice before being removed after the sixth inning of the IronPigs' 8-4 loss to Indianapolis at Coca-Cola Park.

Both times Kendrick was plunked in the upper left arm, according to Tom Housenick of the Morning Call.

There was no update on if Kendrick was injured or taken out for precautionary reasons. Thursday marked Kendrick's second rehab start as he recovers from an oblique strain that has sidelined him since April 15.

The Phillies' leftfielder started at third base Thursday. At the beginning of his rehab assignment, Kendrick was expected to play four games and see time at third and first base, as well as in left field.

Kendrick made a throwing error at third on Thursday and finished 0 for 1 with a run scored. In his two games, he's 0 for 3 with two strikeouts.

Kendrick hit .333 with four doubles, a triple and five RBIs in 10 games with the Phillies prior to landing on the DL.

When he returns, he could see time at third base instead of left field if Maikel Franco continues to struggle (see story).