Iguodala cheered, booed in Philly return as 76ers defeat Nuggets 84-75

The SportsXchange

PHILADELPHIA - Andre Iguodala had the oddest of nights in his first game against his former team Wednesday night. He was booed, and he was accorded a standing ovation.

Most significant of all was the 84-75 loss the Philadelphia 76ers hung on Iguodala and the Denver Nuggets in both teams' season opener.

Spencer Hawes had 16 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots off the bench for the Sixers, and keyed a late-game flurry that had the fans chanting his name, as well as "MVP."

"I don't know if I can do that every night," said Hawes, who guessed that the last time he heard such chants was high school. "I hope so."

Jrue Holiday had 14 points and 11 assists for Philadelphia, which was without center Andrew Bynum, acquired from the Lakers in the same deal that sent Iguodala to Denver. Bynum is resting his chronically sore knees.

Ty Lawson led Denver with 16 points. Iguodala, sent to the Nuggets over the summer in a four-team trade after eight years with the Sixers, finished with 11 points on 5-for-13 shooting. He had four rebounds and four assists.

He was given a mixed ovation when he was introduced, and booed each time he handled the ball, especially early in the game. But the Sixers offered a video tribute during a timeout midway through the first quarter, and the fans rose and gave him a warm round of applause.

Iguodala said he had never had a night in which he was booed and given a standing ovation.

"I don't know too many guys that have had that," he said.

But neither was he surprised that the notoriously tough Philadelphia fans booed him.

"They'll get on their (own) team sometimes if they're not playing too well," he said. "It's been worse."

Overall, he said the night was "emotional," as well as "taxing." And he was thankful for the video tribute, even though he saw only the very end of it - the part where the Sixers thanked him for his contribution to the team.

"That," he said, "was really classy of the organization."

The Sixers led almost the entire game, and pushed their advantage to 68-54 early in the fourth quarter.

But Lawson had eight points in a 16-3 run that cut the gap to 71-70 with 4:41 left.

Holiday then had a three-point play with 4:19 remaining, hitting a tough bank shot in traffic and drawing a foul from Kosta Koufos. Hawes tacked on two free throws 15 seconds later, after blocking Lawson's shot.

Lawson sank a free throw with 3:53 to play, but Hawes drilled a jumper from the left baseline and Jason Richardson converted off the fast break, pushing the Sixers's advantage to 80-71 with 2:49 remaining.

Dorell Wright also had 14 points for the Sixers, who shot just 35.3 percent from the field. Thaddeus Young scored 13.

The Nuggets shot 37.5 percent, and turned the ball over 22 times.

Iguodala made his first shot of the game, a jumper from the right wing on Denver's first possession, but the Sixers burst out to an early 20-12 lead on the strength of two three-point plays by Holiday and 3-pointers from Wright and Richardson.

The Nuggets rallied to tie it at 38-38 late in the second quarter, but the Sixers rattled off the last eight points of the first half, five of those by Hawes.

Hawes and Wright finished the half with 12 points apiece. Andre Miller, another former Sixer, had eight points to pace Denver, while Iguodala had seven.

NOTES: Iguodala told reporters earlier in the day he was "looking forward to a new challenge" and that he fondly recalled his years in Philadelphia. "This organization gave me the opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream," he said. "What better place to do it than a city with great passion?" ... Nuggets coach George Karl said Lawson, who on Tuesday signed a four-year contract extension valued at a reported $48 million, is "one of the up-and-coming point guards in our league" and "our motor." ... Holiday, taken one pick ahead of Lawson in the 2009 draft, is also hoping to get a new deal. When asked earlier Wednesday if Lawson's new contract would have any impact on his negotiations, Holiday told reporters, "Honestly I think I want what I want. Even though Ty is a really good player, my decision is my decision." ... The Nuggets were without center Timofey Mozgof (knee strain) and forward Danilo Gallinari (ankle sprain). ... The Sixers wore blue uniforms for the first time. They will serve as their alternate road uniforms this year.
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