Philadelphia A standing ovation in the first quarter, a chant of "M-V-P" in the fourth. In between, Allen Iverson did plenty to show he was worthy of both accolades.
Iverson scored 40 points and made Kobe Bryant look silly on defense Wednesday night as the Philadelphia 76ers had an easy time with the Los Angeles Lakers in a 112-97 victory.
Iverson, who reached 40 points for the second consecutive night and the 11th time this season, basked in the adoration of his fans and relished every chance he had to go one-on-one with Bryant.
"I had goose bumps so bad that you wouldn't believe," Iverson said of the response from the fans.
Iverson even let a huge smile break across his face as he was speeding in for a breakaway layup early in the fourth quarter as the Sixers were opening a 17-point lead.
Iverson got his first standing ovation when highlights of his All-Star MVP performance were shown on the scoreboard during the game's first timeout, and the fans broke into a loud "M-V-P" chant as he reached 40 points from the free throw line with 1:28 left. He left to another standing ovation moments later.
"I just felt so good, I mainly felt good about my family and friends who have been through me for all my struggles and pain," Iverson said. "And most of all my teammates and my coaching staff, because you can't chant M-V-P for Allen Iverson if Allen Iverson doesn't have this group of guys playing here with him."
Nazr Mohammed added a career-high 12 points starting at center, Tyrone Hill also had 12 and George Lynch 11.
Shaquille O'Neal, who was guarded by backups Mohammed, Todd MacCulloch and Jumaine Jones in the absence of regular Philadelphia center Theo Ratliff (fractured wrist), led Los Angeles with 29 points.
Bryant added 18 points, seven rebounds and seven assists along with another stern lecture from his coach when things weren't going well.
"It wasn't Kobe's best game, we'll just say that," coach Phil Jackson said.
Iverson started going at Bryant right away, and it quickly became apparent that Bryant coming off an overtime victory the previous night at New Jersey was a step slow.
Unlike last season when Bryant came into the First Union Center and shut down Iverson, Bryant seemed to fall for every ball fake or head fake.
Iverson had a 3-pointer over Bryant that was followed by a drive around him as Iverson was putting 15 points on the board in a first quarter which ended with Philadelphia ahead 29-25.
Bucks 102, Hawks 98
Atlanta Sam Cassell scored 23 points and Ray Allen added 19 as the Milwaukee Bucks went on a 16-0 tear in the final five minutes to beat Atlanta. The Hawks, who lost their seventh in a row, led 94-85 after Jason Terry hit a 20-foot jump shot with 5:13 remaining. But Milwaukee rallied, and Scott Williams' dunk with 1:08 left made it 96-94, giving the Bucks their first lead since the second quarter.
Pistons 105, Nets 86
Auburn Hills, Mich. Jerry Stackhouse scored 30 points and Joe Smith added 20 as Detroit once again picked on New Jersey. The win gave Detroit a 4-0 season sweep of the Nets. The Pistons are 16-31 against the rest of the league. Stephon Marbury, who scored 50 points in Tuesday night's overtime loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, had just 12 for the Nets.
Magic 114, Clippers 101
Orlando, Fla. Darrell Armstrong had 22 points and a career-high 16 assists as Orlando beat Los Angeles for its seventh straight win. Tracy McGrady added 22 points for Orlando, which improved to three games over .500 (26-23) for the first time since Dec. 23, 1999. The Clippers, who lost their third straight, were led by Lamar Odom's 15 points. Jeff McInnis and Darius Miles each had 14.
Jazz 106, Knicks 90
Salt Lake City Karl Malone scored 33 points and John Starks had 16 against his former team as Utah beat New York. John Stockton added 15 points and Donyell Marshall scored 12 and had 10 rebounds as the Jazz beat the Knicks for the seventh straight time. Malone hit 14-of-16 from the foul line. Glen Rice came off the bench to lead the Knicks with 24 points, while Latrell Sprewell had 23, Allan Houston had 12 and Marcus Camby 10. New York couldn't keep up with the Jazz in the fourth quarter.
Suns 104, Wolves 96
Phoenix Shawn Marion set a career high for the second night in a row with 38 points and Jason Kidd had his sixth triple-double of the season as Phoenix beat Minnesota. Marion, who had 28 points and 13 rebounds in Phoenix's victory at Golden State on Tuesday, scored 27 in the second half Wednesday, 11 in the last three minutes. He also grabbed 12 rebounds. Marion was 15-for-22 from the field and 8-for-8 at the foul line. Kidd had 19 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. His 10th rebound and 37th career triple-double came on Minnesota's final shot with one second to play.