Sixers snatch victory by holding Blazers to 11 fourth-quarter points
PHILADELPHIA -- Once again, the Philadelphia 76ers finished well, while the Portland Trail Blazers did not.
Elton Brand scored 18 points while Jrue Holiday and Andres Nocioni added 11 each to help the Sixers past the Trail Blazers 88-79 on Tuesday night. The Sixers have won consecutive games for the first time since March 24-26, 2010.
Philadelphia trailed 72-70 midway through the fourth, before going on a 15-4 run that put the game away with 1:50 left. Andre Iguodala, who entered the game averaging 14.8 points, was held to seven -- although four came in the fourth quarter, and he passed the ball effectively to set up baskets.
Wesley Matthews scored 26 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 20 for the Blazers, who struggled again in the fourth quarter.
"I am so pleased with the way our guys are playing defense. They are terrific," Sixers head coach Doug Collins said. "It was just a great win."
Portland managed only 13 fourth-quarter points in a 97-78 home loss to New Orleans on Friday, then collected just 18 points in the final period in a loss to New Jersey.
The Blazers were even worse on Tuesday, scoring just 11 points in the final period. Portland was 4 for 20 from the field in the period. It was the second game of a four-game East Coast stretch for the Blazers, who have dropped four straight.
"You've got to play with confidence," Portland head coach Nate McMillan said. "We're getting open looks and we're not knocking down shots. You've got to take care of the ball, you've got to defend the ball and you've got to score in this league."
The teams played evenly through the first two quarters, with Philadelphia holding a 47-46 lead at halftime. The Blazers built an eight-point lead thanks to a 10-1 run to start the third quarter, their biggest advantage of the game.
Many of those baskets came on layups, as Portland consistently fed the ball inside. The Sixers (5-13) adjusted and forced the Trail Blazers into lower percentage shots, especially Aldridge.
"We limited him to jump shots," Brand said. "He was in the post a lot [in the first half], getting tip-ins, rebounds and alley oops. We made him shoot jump shots. He's a capable jump shooter also, but it wasn't the easy shots he got in the first half."
Brandon Roy, still slowed by a knee injury that forced him to miss three games, was also limited to two second-half points.
The Sixers (5-13) rally actually started when they trailed by eight in the third quarter, and they took over the lead for good when Holiday drained a six-footer to give the Sixers the lead with less than six minutes to play.
Despite only scoring seven points, Iguodala contributed by helping to find lanes and move the ball around.
"He was our ace of spades tonight even though he did not score that many points," Collins said. "[Associate coach] Michael Curry suggested a play to bring him to the top of the floor. We got about six or eight points off of that.
Iguodala enjoyed it.
"It was a key game for us playing against a team like that," he said. "In the post, they were doubling me a lot and I had to pass out. If we lose the game, it might be a problem, but we didn't lose the game, so I have no problems."
The Sixers assigned Craig Brackins to their NBA Development League affiliate, the Springfield Armor. The rookie had appeared in one game this season, scoring six points in 10 minutes at Toronto on Nov. 24. ... Swingman Jason Kapono returned after missing four games due to personal reasons. ... Portland center Joel Przybilla missed his second straight game with the flu.
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