Amare Stoudemire's 21 points not enough as 76ers defeat Knicks

NEW YORK -- Elton Brand's best basketball since coming to Philadelphia has been wasted early this season.

He hopes that's about to change.

Brand scored 20 points, Lou Williams and Jrue Holiday each had 19, and the 76ers beat the New York Knicks 106-96 on Sunday.

A former All-Star, Brand has scored 20 or more in four straight games, his longest stretch since seven in a row late in the 2006-07 season for the Los Angeles Clippers. It hasn't mattered much, since the 76ers are just 2-5.

"It feels OK because we're not winning. But we're just so close to winning," Brand said of his resurgence. "If we were getting blown out or something, then it wouldn't matter to me, scoring 20 points, I don't care about that. But we're just so close to winning, our record could definitely be two or three games above .500. We lost some close, close games, so now hopefully this will give us some confidence to keep building on."

Evan Turner, the No. 2 pick and last season's college player of the year, added 14 points and 10 rebounds in his first NBA start as the 76ers snapped the Knicks' two-game winning streak. Turner started in place of Andre Iguodala, who was out with a strained right Achilles tendon.

The 76ers already have lost twice by three or fewer points, and fell apart in the fourth quarter of their previous game, a 123-116 loss to Cleveland on Friday. They owned this fourth quarter, holding the Knicks to 5-of-24 shooting.

"It was really good to see these guys feel good about themselves," coach Doug Collins said. "We have been in all these games and the guys finally found a way to finish."

Amare Stoudemire had 21 points and 15 rebounds for the Knicks, who managed just 15 points in the final period. After consecutive wins, they heard boos as they walked off the floor at 3-3.

"We had some mental lapses," coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We came out too not focused like we needed to be."

Stoudemire's follow shot gave the Knicks their last lead at 94-93 before the Sixers ran off nine in a row. Tony Battie made a jumper, Holiday nailed a 3-pointer, then Turner stole Stoudemire's pass for a layup and a 100-94 advantage. Holiday capped the decisive burst with two free throws.

Stoudemire's free throw got the Knicks back within six, but they couldn't grab a rebound after forcing a miss and Williams hit a pair of free throws with 40 seconds to go.

Brand made six of seven shots in the first quarter, scoring 12 points and helping the 76ers take a 33-25 lead after they shot 70 percent. Slowed by injuries, he averaged just 13.3 points in his first two seasons after signing an $80 million contract with Philadelphia. He's scoring 18.6 per game this season on 58 percent shooting.

"I remember back in the day he was a beast. He's just been hurt the last couple of years," Turner said. "But I feel like he's really healthy and he's out there being a warrior."

Philadelphia led by 10 midway through the second before the Knicks got their transition game going, roaring back with a 15-3 spurt to take a 54-52 lead on Ronny Turiaf's dunk with 1:44 remaining. New York led 56-54 at halftime.

The Knicks built a nine-point lead in the third, but Collins went deep down his bench, going with a frontcourt of Battie, Marreese Speights and Jodie Meeks to help the Sixers cut it to 81-80 heading to the fourth.

"We lost the game in the third quarter," Stoudemire said. "A lot of free throws. We were putting those guys on the line."

Reserve Toney Douglas scored 17 points and Danilo Gallinari added 15 for New York, which won the final three meetings last season after dropping the previous six. Raymond Felton finished with seven points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.

Game notes
Iguodala had started 252 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in the league behind the Lakers' Derek Fisher, who entered Sunday at 297, and had missed just six of a possible 498 in his career. ... The Knicks came in averaging a league-leading 8.4 blocked shots per game. They ranked 29th last season and 30th two seasons ago in that category, when they had fewer as a team than Orlando's Dwight Howard. ... Wilson Chandler (17.4, 3rd) and Douglas (16.4, 5th) both entered in the league's top five in reserve scoring. Detroit's Ben Gordon was first (21.7), Williams was second (17.7) and former Knicks forward Al Harrington (16.6) fourth.