On this day in NBA history, January 15th of 2002, Larry Brown looked at the boxscore of the Lakers-Grizzlies game from the night before and saw Kobe Bryant scored an NBA season-high 56 points (in just 3 quarter) and knew his star player was going to try to top it.
“When I saw what Kobe had done, I knew Allen would answer,” Said the Sixers coach.
He was right. Brown’s 76ers and the NBA’s league leader in scoring, Allen Iverson, were facing Steve Francis and the Houston Rockets that night and although Iverson wouldn’t admit it, he saw every popular opponent and praised accomplishment by another all-star as a statement opportunity, so he was extra hype about this game.
The 76ers rushed out to an early lead and Iverson was firing and making shots from everywhere and on everybody, including the Franchise, who missed his first 8 shots.
“It is hard to stop someone when they have the ultimate green light, plus you are hot and you are that fast,” Mobley said.
An “ultimate green light” that allowed Iverson to take 42 shots, which was just 6 less than the rest of his teammates combined in a game that went into overtime.
Despite Iverson’s hot hand, the Rockets should have won this game in regulation. They had a 9-point lead with 5 minutes left but allowed Philly to go on a 12-2 run. With 24 seconds left on the clock, Moochie Norris held the ball too long before trying a horrible last second shot to win it. Then it was all Iverson and Philly in OT and the 76ers won 112-106.
Iverson’s 58 was a new NBA season-high in points, a new career-high for AI and it broke Alex English’s record of 54 for most points against the Rockets.
“He was phenomenal. It’s as good as you could ever see.” Brown said of Iverson.
Rockets coach Rudy T was just as impressed with Iverson’s performance.
“He is just tremendous,” Tomjanovich said. “We were running guys at him. Iverson just shot it before we could get anyone across the floor. He was winging them from all over the place. It was a great performance.”