76ers Overcome Slow Start, Roll Past Warriors
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — For a team in the midst of a grueling season-opening, five-game road trip, Philadelphia looked surprisingly fresh against Golden State.
On the second half of a back-to-back at that — and after falling into a 13-point hole early.
It’s the type of stuff Elton Brand came to expect from the 76ers a season ago, a pattern they’ll have to continue to make it through the rugged Eastern Conference.
“We kind of came together tonight defensively and you saw how we shared the ball,” said Brand, who tied his career high of five steals in the 76ers’ 107-79 victory over the Warriors on Saturday night. “That’s how we were last year. It bodes well for our psyche to win a ballgame like that, especially being down and having to grind it out.”
One night after blowing a 13-point lead in a loss to Utah, Philadelphia fell behind by that same margin early against Golden State before outscoring the Warriors 69-41 over the second and third quarters.
More telling were the Sixers’ season-high 29 assists, seven from Andre Iguodala, who also had 14 points and eight rebounds.
Lou Williams added 23 points off the bench, while Spencer Hawes had his third double-double this season with 14 points and 12 rebounds for the 76ers, who have one more stop left on their road trip — the longest to start a season in franchise history.
“There are certain moments that you don’t forget as a coach, and today will be one of those days,” coach Doug Collins said. “I thought we got our team back today. Our bench turned the game around for us.”
Stephen Curry, back in the lineup after a one-game absence due to a sprained ankle, scored 21 points for Golden State, which played without guard Monta Ellis.
“Just a disappointing outing across the board,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “They (came) here with the mindset of beating us and they did it.”
The Sixers were playing for the second straight night while the Warriors hadn’t played since Wednesday. It showed early, as Golden State built a lead midway through the first quarter.
Collins tweaked his lineup slightly after that, getting Williams on the court in place of starting guard Jodie Meeks.
Williams, who missed a potential tying shot in the final seconds against Utah, immediately gave the Sixers a spark and finished 7 of 11 from the floor, 4 for 4 on 3-pointers.
He scored on a three-point play in the fourth quarter to give Philadelphia a 91-66 lead, sending many in the crowd of 19,084 streaming for the exits.
“I just thought we continued to push through the game,” Williams said. “They made a run early on and the second group came on and was able to close the gap, then the first group came back in and steadied the ship after that. We just continued to push forward.”
Philadelphia, which had lost five of its previous six in Oracle Arena, built a 20-point lead early in the third quarter, then coasted the rest of the way.
Ellis, who left the team earlier in the week following the death of his grandmother, was in Mississippi for the funeral. It’s uncertain whether he’ll return in time for Monday’s game in Phoenix.
Klay Thompson started in place of Ellis and scored three points with three assists.
Curry did not play in Wednesday’s win over the New York Knicks after spraining his right ankle two nights earlier, the same ankle he had surgery on in May.
The Warriors held Curry out of practice this week then cleared him to play against the Sixers.
Both decisions paid off nicely for Golden State.
Curry looked strong following the brief layoff and moved around without any noticeable restrictions. He also scored 10 points in the first quarter, including a 3-pointer with 1.4 seconds left to give the Warriors a 25-19 lead.
Philadelphia, which missed 11 of its first 14 shots while settling for mid-range jumpers, attacked Golden State’s defense more aggressively in the second and scored 31 points to take control.
Less than 24 hours after their meltdown against the Jazz, Philadelphia didn’t let up against Golden State and led by as much as 66-45 midway through the third quarter.
“We had them right where we wanted … and we let them back into the game,” Curry said.
“It’s one of those games that’s going to make us stronger in the end, but you can’t have it at home when you have a chance to go 3-1 to start our season off.”
The Warriors, who didn’t attempt a free throw until 2 1/2 minutes into the second half, played so sluggishly after their quick start that new owner Joe Lacob slumped in his courtside chair, arms folded in frustration.
Golden State managed just 12 points in the third and trailed 72-54 going into the final period.
Notes: It was the first time since Oct. 3, 2010, that Golden State did not take a free throw in the first half. … The Warriors play seven of their next 10 on the road, beginning with a three-game trip to Phoenix, San Antonio and Los Angeles to face the Lakers.
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