December 27 Philadelphia Inquirer:
DENVER – Of late, the schedule has broken nicely for the 76ers. And they’re taking advantage.
On Sunday night, the Denver Nuggets were playing the second of back-to-back games and without superstar forward Carmelo Anthony. These were the watered-down Nuggets, receiving only limited minutes from forwards Kenyon Martin and Chris “Birdman” Andersen.
The Sixers defeated Denver, 95-89, coming back from a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
“It happens in the NBA,” said Elton Brand. “Guys have sicknesses, guys have key players out, so you have to take advantage of it. They’re still a formidable team, they still have some pretty good players over there, but we had to win this game.”
The Sixers improved to 12-18. The Nuggets, led by Chauncey Billups’ 24 points, dropped to 16-13.
A week ago, the Sixers happened to play Orlando on the day the Magic had traded a third of their roster. On Sunday, the Sixers caught the Nuggets without Anthony, who missed his third consecutive game after his sister’s death.
The Sixers sealed the victory on a three-pointer by Jodie Meeks with 47.1 seconds left, which boosted their lead to 92-86.
“Once again, our defense gave us a chance,” Sixers coach Doug Collins said.
Forward Thaddeus Young scored 20 points on 10-for-18 shooting for the winners. Jrue Holiday scored 22 points on 8-for-12 shooting, and Brand had 16 points and 17 rebounds.
On most nights, Collins has no idea where his team’s scoring will come from. Or if any scoring will come at all.
That was probably on Collins’ mind in the first quarter, when the Sixers were 6 for 26 from the field. With 3 minutes, 5 seconds left in the first, they had scored just nine points and trailed by nine.
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