PHILADELPHIA – Allen Iverson outplayed Kobe Bryant in an anticipated matchup of the league’s leading scorers, scoring 34 points and sinking the winner with 22.2 seconds left to lead the 76ers to an 85-81 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.

Iverson – having an awful quarter after he missed an easy layup, two free throws and was whistled for traveling in the fourth quarter – stepped just inside the 3-point arc and buried a jumper in the final seconds for an 83-81 lead.

Bryant missed a jumper over Andre Iguodala with about 5 seconds left, and Iverson made two free throws to seal Philadelphia’s third straight win.

Kyle Korver and John Salmons each hit critical 3-pointers in the final 21/2 minutes to pad the Sixers’ lead, but it wasn’t enough once Bryant finally got going.

Unable to find his shot all game against Iguodala, Bryant came through in the final minute with a three-point play and then another basket with 37.8 seconds left to rally the Lakers and tie the score at 81.

But Iverson made up for a small stretch of miscues that nearly cost the Sixers, hitting a jumper that sent the crowd into a frenzy.

Bryant came in averaging a league-high 34.8 points, but was held in check by Iguodala on 7-for-27 shooting. Chris Mihm picked up the slack inside with 20 points, and Lamar Odom added 16.

Iverson – second in the league behind Bryant with 29.8 points – fired up the Sixers and started a rally late in the fourth when he was challenged on his way to the basket.

After a rare miss on an uncontested fastbreak layup on the previous possession, Iverson was staggered on a hard foul the next time down by Sasha Vujacic. Vujacic threw his arm back and connected with Iverson in the neck, sending the feisty All-Star into a fit. He needed to be restrained from a possible fight.

Both players were whistled for technicals, so Iverson attempted only two free throws for the shot, and he paced around the court, agitated, before going to the line.

After he sank the first one, he turned to his left and glared at Vujacic. He hit the second to pull the Sixers to 69-66.

Iverson added two more free throws the next time down and Chris Webber followed with a spin move to give the Sixers a 70-69 lead.

Bryant missed his first eight shots before going up-and-under for his first bucket late in the second quarter. Bryant added another before the halftime buzzer to give the Lakers a 46-42 lead.

He was stifled in the first half (3-for-14) by Iguodala.

Iguodala might have concentrated too much on defense, because he was a non-factor offensively until his baseline jumper gave the Sixers a 73-71 lead. Iguodala made another timely play when Bryant was hit with an offensive foul for pushing off on the next possession.

While Bryant struggled, the Lakers relied on Mihm. The 7-foot center with the meager 6.8 points per average played outstanding, shooting 8-for-12 from the floor and finishing with nine rebounds.

Notes: Lakers G Aaron McKie got a standing ovation in his return to Philadelphia. McKie, who played at Temple and scored 4,143 points in seven-plus seasons with the 76ers, was experiencing the normal pains of learning the complex triangle offense and was averaging only 5.3 minutes and 0.5 points this season. “Just coming in this locker room alone is strange to me,” McKie said. “I’m pulling for those guys (the Sixers), but at the same time we need to win.” Coach Phil Jackson said he still expects McKie to play a pivotal role this year and hoped to use him more in the fourth quarter. … While McKie was cheered, Bryant was booed, the way he always is when he returns home. Bryant, who went to nearby Lower Merion High School, said the boos don’t bother him. “I love it,” he said. “I love it. I love it. I mean, I love it. This is where it all began for me.” … NBA referee Joe Crawford worked his 2,000th career game, joining four other refs to reach that mark.

AP-ES-11-11-05 2255EST

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