Brand, Sixers take down Blazers on road

Elton Brand said the Philadelphia 76ers’ game plan was simple.

Even coming from behind, they made it look easy.

Brand scored a season-high 25 points and had nine rebounds in

a reserve role as Philadelphia rallied to beat the Portland Trail

Blazers 104-93.

“We attacked. That’s really all it was. We attacked,” Brand

said.

Philadelphia (8-22) shot 75 percent during the third quarter

and made 26-of-40 shots after halftime as the Sixers wiped out

Portland’s 10-point lead in the third quarter.

For the game, Philadelphia made 57.7 percent from the field

(45-of-78). The Blazers shot 42.2 percent (35-of-83).

Brand, a former All Star, hit 11-of-16 shots in 30 minutes.

Allen Iverson, returning to the lineup after missing the past four

games with a knee injury, made 7-of-11 shots and scored 19 points.

Marreese Speights hit 7-of-8 shots and was one of three Sixers to

score 14 points.

The return of Iverson appeared to give Philadelphia a boost.

Iverson’s first game since Dec. 16 wasn’t easy for the 34-year-old

guard.

“Once I got my second wind I was all right. The first couple

minutes I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest,” said

Iverson, who in 31 minutes also handed out five assists and

collected four rebounds.

Philadelphia lost three of four games with Iverson sidelined.

“Having Allen back helps. He’s a finisher. He can get to the

line and get the ball to guy at the right time. We’ve missed that,”

Brand said.

Portland (20-13) came into Monday’s game having won four

consecutive games, all against teams with winning records. Only

Minnesota (7-24) and New Jersey (2-28) had worse records in the NBA

than Philadelphia.

Brand thought Portland looked past the Sixers.

“If you look at our record, it’s easy to overlook a team like

us. But we’re talented and this is what can happen,” Brand said.

Portland coach Nate McMillan, noting that the Blazers gave up

60 points inside the paint and 61 second-half points, was

disappointed with his team’s lack of urgency after its recent play

in wins over Miami, Dallas, San Antonio and Denver.

“We were a step slow all night long. The movement, the ball

movement, setting the screens. I didn’t think we got to our tempo,”

McMillan said.

Brandon Roy led Portland (20-13) with 24 points, while

LaMarcus Aldridge had 17 points and 12 rebounds.

Portland controlled the second quarter to take a 49-43

halftime lead. The key stretch came midway through the quarter

when, with the game tied 36-36, Roy and Dante Cunningham combined

to score nine unanswered points to give the Blazers a 45-36 lead.

Portland stretched its lead to 61-51 midway during the third

quarter before Philadelphia made its move. The Sixers went on a

13-4 run, then capped the quarter when Royal Ivey hit a

buzzer-beating 22-footer to give Philadelphia a 77-73 lead heading

into the fourth quarter.

The Sixers continued their surge during the final period.

Over a 13-minute stretch spanning the third and fourth quarters,

Philadelphia outscored the Blazers 40-17 to take a 91-78 lead with

6:05 left in the game. The Sixers led by as many as 16 points.

Notes: Philadelphia has won three straight over Portland and

five of its past six over the Blazers. Iverson, acquired by

Philadelphia on Dec. 5, is averaging 16.1 points in six games with

the Sixers. Since Nov. 11, Philadelphia is 4-18. Roy has scored at

least 23 points in 13 consecutive games. It is the longest active

streak of 20-point plus games in the NBA. Portland committed a

season-low seven turnovers against the Sixers.