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News » Sixers hold off Bucks in home opener

Sixers hold off Bucks in home opener

Sixers hold off Bucks in home opener TO CELEBRATE Halloween, many of the fans at the Wachovia Center to watch the 76ers home opener against the Milwaukee Bucks were in costumes.

The Sixers didn't wear any during their 99-86 win, but their identity still remains a little bit of a mystery.

At times last night, they seemed to be a very good defensive team, like when they held Milwaukee (0-1) to just one field goal on its first nine possessions in the third quarter.

Their offense also seemed to gel at times, like when they started the game with 11 assists on their first 12 baskets and, more specifically, in the third quarter when they scored 35 points and made 19 of 20 free throws and turned a 47-41 halftime deficit into a 76-67 lead.

But there were also meltdowns, like the 18 points they scored in the second quarter, when they also turned the ball over eight times.

"We're building," said Elton Brand, who finished with 17 points and six rebounds. "Our identity is going to be defense, playing aggressive defense and running our sets and sharing the ball. We had six guys in double figures tonight. We can do that every night."

Andre Iguodala led a balanced scoring attack for the Sixers with 19, while Lou Williams added 16. Thad Young had 13 and Sam Dalembert and Jason Kapono each added 10.

Milwaukee got a terrific performance from rookie point guard Brandon Jennings, the 10th overall pick in this year's draft, who finished with 17 points, and nine each of assists and rebounds. Michael Redd also had 17 and Ersan Ilyasova chipped in 11.

In Wednesday's opening loss at Orlando, the Sixers gave up 16 three-pointers, many of them the wide-open variety. Coach Eddie Jordan said before the game that Orlando's success from beyond the arc was more a case of shooting the ball extremely well and less due to his team's defense.

Still, 12 of Milwaukee's first 18 points came from beyond the arc. Things got worse after the first when the Bucks outscored the Sixers , 29-18, in the second quarter, with 18 of those points coming in the paint.

"We really got into each other at halftime," said Iguodala, who also filled his stat line with nine rebounds and seven assists. "We tried to police ourselves at halftime. In the second quarter we had a little bit of a letdown, but I think that shows growth when coach doesn't have to tell us what's wrong. We kind of figured it out on our own and went out there and made it happen."

Whatever was said among the team, it was helpful. It was if the team got hyped on Halloween candy at the break, as the energy level rose throughout each player, and when Young made two free throws with 2 minutes, 5 seconds left in the third, it ended a 29-12 run that boosted the lead to 70-59.

"We might not have a superstar, but we have 13 stars," Jordan said. "If they are great in their roles, in their own roles, we'll be a pretty good team. I saw a lot of very good performances from role players - all of our stars. From Andre Iguodala to Sam to Royal Ivey, Thaddeus Young. Willie Green came in and really jump-started us, even though he didn't make a shot, he ran the offense and got us going. It was a terrific performance in our own individual roles."

Jordan's comments were head-scratchers, as the only sub who played more than 13 minutes was Kapono, who totaled close to 24 minutes. Marreese Speights, who scored 26 in the season-opener, played fewer than 13 (getting four points) and Ivey didn't play at all in the second half.

Still, it is a win, and the first for Jordan as the coach of the franchise.

Six shotsBucks coach Scott Skiles was excited to finally see Brandon Jennings get his first regular-season action. "He's having somewhat up-and-down exhibition season, as all rookies do. Having said that, he's shown tremendous talent, he has an awful lot of ability, he can really see the floor. He has a good handle, quick hands, quick feet. He hasn't shot the ball percentagewise well in the exhibition season, but we think he's a shooter as well, a scorer. We're excited about him. As with all rookies, there are going to be some growing pains, there's no question about that." Jennings was all that last night . . . Eddie Jordan was asked before the game what it was like to have the spotlight all to himself, with the Phillies not playing. "With the way we played the other night, we don't want a lot of attention. We're concerned about 48 minutes right in front of us, not concerned about the outside world right now. We're concentrating on playing well and getting a win" . . . Center Primoz Brezec was inactive and swingman Rodney Carney did not play.

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Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: October 31, 2009


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