The kids led the Sixers to their second victory of 2010.
As unlikely as it may sound to some casual observers, Elton Brand has unquestionably been the Philadelphia 76ers' best player so far this season. On Sunday afternoon, he did nothing to dispel that thought, scoring 20 points and pulling down 7 rebounds in the Sixers' 106-96 victory over the New York Knicks.
Including Sunday's game, Brand -- who is shooting nearly 58 percent from the field this year -- has scored 20 points or more five times in the past six games.
He wasn't the only player of note for the Sixers, however. Jrue Holiday (19 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds) and Lou Williams (19 points) also contributed exceptional efforts to a team that has now scored 100 or more points in four straight games.
While the Sixers have had difficulties closing out games over the past week (Washington, Cleveland), they had no such issues on Sunday, ending the game on a 16-4 run. For the entire 4th quarter, the Sixers' defense only allowed 15 points -- the lowest number of points that they've given up in a single quarter all season.
"That's the encouraging thing," said Sixers' coach Doug Collins, following the game. "We have been in all the games [this week] and guys finally found a way to finish."
The victory came without the services of Andre Iguodala, who strained his right Achilles' tendon midway through Friday night's 123-115 home loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Iguodala -- who prior to Sunday had played in 252 consecutive games -- is still listed as day-to-day.
In his stead, Evan Turner played well in his first NBA start, scoring 14 points and pulling down a team-high 10 rebounds. And with additional minutes available due to Iguodala's injury, Jodie Meeks made the most of the opportunity, scoring 5 points and grabbing 3 steals in his first regular season game as a Sixer.
It should be noted that Sunday marked the third time this season that the Sixers have played an extended period of time without Iguodala in the lineup. And with the exception of the 4th quarter against the Cavaliers on Friday, the team has played remarkably well without the man who many consider to be their best player.
"We've played without Andre some stretches this year and our guys have gotten in there and played very, very well," said Collins. "That is encouraging."
Sunday's game in New York was the first of a five-game road trip. Successive visits to Oklahoma City, Dallas, San Antonio and Cleveland will quickly test the mettle of a 2-5 team that just now seems to be learning how to win.