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News » Brand breaks out as Sixers edge Bobcats


Brand breaks out as Sixers edge Bobcats


Brand breaks out as Sixers edge Bobcats YOU COULD see it mounting on the face of Elton Brand the past few weeks - as the minutes dwindled, the frustration grew.

It was a reason two teammates had to leave the practice floor last week courtesy of Brand - one due to a well-placed elbow (Jason Smith), the other because of a swat to the face (Primoz Brezec). It also played a big part in last night's performance that yielded 19 points, 11 rebounds, six blocks and three steals in 41-plus minutes, all season highs for Brand, as the 76ers (5-6) squeezed past the Charlotte Bobcats (3-8), 86-84.

On a night when, for the most part, the atmosphere at the Wachovia Center was a cure for insomniacs, Brand's game awoke amid speculation that he would be yanked from the starting lineup.

He was in his usual position as starter, though, as he has been 643 times in his 654 NBA games. And eight of those nonstarts came the past two seasons when he battled injuries. Last night, for the first time in a while, he was a key starter.

Still, this one was in doubt until the waning moments when, with the score tied, Andre Iguodala rebounded a Boris Diaw missed trey from the right wing and fed Lou Williams for a driving layup with 3.1 seconds left to secure the victory.

On Charlotte's ensuing inbound pass, Brand tipped the ball away and Iguodala cradled it to seal the win.

That Brand was on the court for the amount of time he was, was shocking. That he played the way he did was a welcomed surprise for the team. In the days leading up to the game, it was assumed Rodney Carney would take over for Brand in the starting lineup. The team is trying to find a rotation in the wake of sub Marreese Speights' partial MCL tear in his left knee that will keep him out 6-to-8 weeks.

"It probably made him mad," said Williams, who finished with 19 points and six assists. "I'm going to find something good to make him mad Friday," when the Sixers host the Memphis Grizzlies.

Brand, who had not scored more than 11 points in any of the previous seven games, was quite active early. He played all 12 minutes of the opening quarter, scoring eight points while grabbing three steals and three rebounds, and blocking a shot. He finished the first half with 12 points.

"If I didn't [get off to a good start], I'd have got pulled," Brand said with a laugh. "That was key. Just the effort in the entire game was key. Pride was definitely a motivating factor because you've got to be tough out there, you've got to be aggressive."

Still, throughout the game, despite the effort of Brand and Iguodala (25 points), Larry Brown's Bobcats hung around like a bad cold.

Newly acquired Stephen Jackson, who pulls the trigger about as much as a sharpshooter on a deer hunt in the Lower Merion woods, drained 26 points (on 9-for-21 shooting) to keep the Bobcats hopeful of their first road win in six tries this season. With the Sixers holding a 77-71 lead in the middle of the fourth, Jackson hit a trey from the left wing, then canned one of two from the line to cut the lead to 77-75. Later, with his team trailing 81-77, Jackson hit a leaner and a "three" from the top of the key to give the Bobcats an 82-81 lead, their first since a 22-21 advantage late in the first.

But Williams scored six of his team's final seven points, including the decisive bucket.

"We talked about it and decided [not to call a] timeout prior to that play," Iguodala said. "I think that caught them by surprise a little bit. When I got the rebound, they kind of just looked and I just pushed it up the court and we had a three-on-one break. And Lou's really good at getting it off the glass so I saw him and hit him and he had a really good finish."

For the Sixers , nothing was more important than Brand's strong start and finish. Ironically, Carney also had a good night with 10 points and eight rebounds in 30 minutes.

"I was wavering," Sixers coach Eddie Jordan said about starting Brand. "Just looking at practice with Rodney in there, I thought we were a little bit small, a little bit light. People have been pushing us around. Elton and I had a couple conversations and at first I said, 'Just play hard and execute and sort of be the physical fulcrum for us, the guy that gets it done physically for us.'

"When you're a pro like him, there's a lot of things you can call upon to motivate you. You can summon up other experiences to get you going. Hopefully this is one of them. He's a pro, man. He's got a lot of confidence and a lot of pride."

And, according to Brand, a lot of Basketball left.

"I've still got better games to come," he said. "I still missed some shots, didn't get to some balls I should have gotten to and there was some rebounds I could have gotten to."

For now though, a sigh of relief.

"One game, big sigh," Brand said. "Now you look to another game and get another sigh."


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Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 20, 2009

 

 
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