76ers win 3rd straight, beat Bucks 94-82By DAN GELSTON, AP Sports Writer Monday, Jan 16, 2012
PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Without a true superstar, the Philadelphia 76ers are keeping their super start going.
Up ahead, first place in the East.
Everything is going right for the Sixers this season. They’ve won three straight, nine of 10 overall and already hold a four-game lead over the second-place New York Knicks in the Atlantic Division. At home, the Sixers are 6-0.
Philadelphia trails Chicago by one game for first place in the Eastern Conference.
Yes, it’s early. But for a franchise that hasn’t won a playoff series since 2003, hasn’t had a winning record since 2005, and struggled to win fans as much as games for most of the last decade, it’s a sign that brighter days are finally ahead for Philadelphia’s fourth-most popular team.
“I’m down to win all of them,” a smiling Holiday said. “All the home games, away games. We can go undefeated from here on out. I’m cool with that.”
The good vibes also extend off the court.
Iguodala went 9 of 14 from the floor hours after he was chosen as part of the 20-player men’s Olympic basketball pool. Known as a lockdown defender, he surprised Tobias Harris with a block from behind late in the third.
Iguodala, the ninth overall pick of the 2004 draft, has spent all nine seasons with the Sixers. He was the go-to defensive stopper for the U.S. team that won gold in the 2010 world championships.
“I think Dre’s got a great chance if he stays healthy,” coach Doug Collins said. “He’s gotten off to a great start for us this year.”
All the Sixers have played a role.
Their top reserve, Williams entered as the Sixers’ leading scorer at 16.1 points per game. Six other players average double-digit scoring, proving they don’t need a superstar to make them contenders in the East, just team-oriented basketball.
Collins calls the Sixers perhaps the most unselfish team he’s coached in all his years in basketball.
Check out the assist totals that go along with the points: Williams had six, Holiday five and Iguodala four.
“We love making the extra pass and seeing the next guy get the credit as much as doing it ourselves,” Hawes said. “Any time you can get guys to buy into that, it’s a dangerous combination.”
Hawes, their 7-foot-1 center, stunned everyone in the third when he nailed a pair of 3-pointers after missing his previous four attempts on the season. His first one gave the Sixers a 67-54 lead, then he stepped back to end the quarter to make his second straight for a 76-62 lead.
It was that kind of game.
“We have an atmosphere that’s been created, a winning atmosphere,” Hawes said.
Andrew Bogut returned from concussion-like symptoms to lead the Bucks with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Brandon Jennings (18.7 ppg) was limited to seven points and missed eight of 11 attempts and was outplayed by Holiday. With Jennings struggling to get going, the Bucks fell to 0-8 on the road.
“It’s not hard finding a guy to play well,” coach Scott Skiles said. “We’ve got to find multiple guys to play well.”
The Sixers’ defense and some clutch shooting thwarted Milwaukee’s comeback.
While he’s carved a reputation as a stout man-to-man defender, Iguodala bested Harris late in the third. Stephen Jackson made a nice dish to Harris as he cut down the lane, but Iguodala was there to swat the ball against the backboard with his left hand.
Williams cut off a late Bucks’ surge with a 3-pointer that stretched the lead to 83-71.
The Sixers made 11 of 23 3s. With a hand in the lane, they forced the Bucks to shoot a step or two beyond their comfort range and into 3 of 14 3-point shooting.
One weak point for the Sixers had been slow starts, but they made 12 of 19 shots in the first quarter and rolled to an early 13 point lead.
“They’re a very underrated team,” Bogut said. “They move the ball well, they’re very well coached and they showed it today.”
NOTES: The Sixers are off to their best home start since opening 10-0 in 2002-03. … The Sixers didn’t win their 10th game last season until the 25th game (10-15). … The Sixers won six games at home by holding all teams under 90 points.
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