Brand helps 76ers beat Pacers 107-97

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP)—Allen Iverson’s(notes) “team first” approach with the Philadelphia 76ers has earned him respect from his teammates and fans.

Iverson, recently voted a starter for the Eastern Conference All-Star team despite starting the season with Memphis, had 17 points, five rebounds and three assists in the 76ers’ 107-97 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night.

Philadelphia (15-28) has won both games since Iverson was voted an All-Star starter by the fans, a selection that has drawn criticism. The former NBA MVP and four-time scoring champion plans to play in his 11th straight All-Star game Feb. 14 at Cowboys Stadium.

“My fans still support me. You can’t ask for more than that,” he said. “When you play this game, it’s all about the people that come to see you, the people in the stands. For somebody to say the fans don’t mean anything, that’s crazy.”

Since joining the team in early December, Iverson has helped the 76ers go 10-13 after a 5-15 start. He entered Saturday averaging 14.2 points, well below his career average, and 4.3 assists.

“He means a lot more than his numbers,” Philadelphia coach Eddie Jordan said. “His spirit gives us momentum, his spirit gives us confidence, it gives us a sounding board, it gives us a calming effect. He means a lot.

“He’s special to us. He’s not the Allen we used to know back in 2001, but he adds leadership, toughness and some experience.”

Iverson, whose reputation took a hit in recent years after turbulent stops in Detroit and Memphis, has impressed his 76ers teammates with his maturity.

“He’s been great with us,” said Philadelphia forward Elton Brand(notes), who scored 23 points. “You hear the rumors and stories over the years, and it’s great to see him in this light because he totally has a positive image to me.”

Thaddeus Young(notes) had 22 points and 10 rebounds, and Lou Williams scored 14 points for the 76ers, who won consecutive games for just the fourth time this season.

“The most important thing is for us to take it one game at a time and not try to look forward,” Iverson said. “I think the sky’s the limit.”

Danny Granger(notes) had 22 points, A.J. Price(notes) added 17 and Troy Murphy(notes) had 11 points and 12 rebounds for the Pacers (15-29), who have lost four of five after a three-game winning streak.

“Our guys played exhausted and we got outplayed, no question about it,” Indiana coach Jim O’Brien said. “Our guys are exhausted and they should be. We just played a five-week schedule that is taxing.”

Trailing by 13 entering the fourth quarter, the Pacers cut it to 88-83 after Price’s consecutive 3-pointers. Philadelphia answered with an 11-0 run over the next 3 minutes to make it 99-83. Young had seven points during the spurt.

“We need to win, we got the talent,” Brand said. “We just need to put it all on the court and play together.”

Philadelphia took its biggest lead, 74-58, on Iverson’s jumper with 5 minutes left in the third quarter. Indiana cut the deficit to nine before falling behind 86-73 entering the final period.

“This is one we could’ve and should’ve won,” said Pacers guard Brandon Rush(notes), who had 14 points. “We couldn’t make shots when we needed.”

NOTES: Philadelphia rookie guard Jrue Holiday(notes) needed 12 stitches to close a cut above his right eye after banging his head on the court in the first quarter. He returned in the third quarter. … Pacers C Jeff Foster(notes) (sore lower back) and F Tyler Hansbrough(notes) (ear infection) did not play. … The Pacers and 76ers will complete the home-and-home series Monday in Philadelphia. … Many of the fans at Conseco Fieldhouse wore Indianapolis Colts jerseys and shirts. The Colts face the New York Jets in the AFC championship game Sunday at nearby Lucas Oil Stadium. Some Jets fans in attendance chanted: “J-E-T-S! Jets! Jets! Jets!” in the third quarter to a chorus of boos.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Philadelphia
E. Brand Elton Brand
9-21,  23 Pts
8 Rebs, 4 Assists
 Indiana
D. Granger Danny Granger
7-13,  22 Pts
7 Rebs, 3 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

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Rebounds
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Saturday, Jan 23