PORTLAND - Before last night's game with the 76ers, the Portland Trail Blazers had gotten behind by 10 or more points in each of their last four games at their Rose Garden.
They came back to win all four.
The Sixers did a little role reversal, erasing a 10-point third-quarter deficit and storming back for a 104-93 win over the Blazers.
It was the sixth time the Sixers have won at the Rose Garden in their last eight games, and they improved to 8-22 overall this season.
Despite falling behind, 61-51, on a Brandon Roy postup in the middle of the third, the Sixers actually took control of the game in that period by hitting 15 of 20 shots from the floor. They led, 77-73, when it ended. Elton Brand, who was terrific off the bench in scoring 25 points and grabbing nine rebounds, scored 10 of his points in that period.
Allen Iverson, in his first game back after missing four with an arthritic left knee, added 19 points, while Andre Iguodala (nine assists, seven rebounds, no turnovers), Sam Dalembert and Marreese Speights all had 14.
"I've been working especially on my jumper as far as getting my legs back up under me," said Iverson, who shot 7-for-11 from the floor and dealt five assists. "I honestly felt good, as far as my knee. It didn't bother me at any point. A couple times when I came out of the game, it got stiff, then I had to loosen it back up. But other than that, I felt good out there. I caught my second wind and I was all right. The first couple of minutes, I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest."
Dalembert was particularly good at both ends of the floor, as he collected eight rebounds and three blocks. Coach Eddie Jordan recently has leaned toward the tandem of Brand and Speights off the bench to give the team an offensive boost. And they did that. But Dalembert's inside presence was a big reason the Blazers shot only 35-for-83 (42.2 percent) from the floor.
With the help of that torrid third quarter, the Sixers finished the game shooting 45-for-78 (57.7 percent).
"It was a story of everyone playing well," Jordan said. "I thought Royal Ivey gave us a good spurt. I thought Allen was very good for us. And Marreese was good for a stretch when we needed it early in the fourth, and Sam was good early and throughout the game."
Like the Sixers, who played without Willie Green (sprained right ankle), Portland is decimated by injuries.
Including last night, Portland players have missed 145 combined games because of injury. Among those out are starting center Greg Oden (season-ending surgery for a left patella fracture), backup center Joel Przybilla (surgery on ruptured patella), sharpshooter Rudy Fernandez (lower back) and forward Travis Outlaw (surgery for stress fracture in foot). That's a lot of missing minutes, points and rebounds for coach Nate McMillan, who is recovering from Achilles' tendon surgery, too.
The Sixers have also dealt with injuries, and it has ultimately led to Brand coming off the bench. He did it superbly last night.
"He was talking, too," Jordan said of Brand. "He was leading us in huddles and on the floor. He was assertive, and with Allen being assertive, everyone else pretty much followed."
Said Brand following his big game: "Toughness. It's just toughness. We've been close so many times we couldn't get over the hump, rebound, play 'D' like we know we can. Having Allen back, he's a finisher. He knows how to get to the line, get the guys that need the ball at the right time.
"You see how much attention he draws. Lou Williams also makes it easy for me, Andre Iguodala, all those guys. But having the ball in [Iverson's] hands late really helped a lot."
Roy scored 24 points to lead the Blazers, Roy's 13th straight game in which he's had at least 23, the longest current streak in the league. Forward LaMarcus Aldridge collected 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Blazers, who dropped to 20-13.
Eddie Jordan talked before the game that Allen Iverson's minutes, for the time being, would be closely monitored. "Six or 7 minutes a spurt," Jordan said of Iverson's limitations. "He understands it, and he might, you know, when the juices get flowing, he might balk at it, but he knows. We're going to be professional about it and take the doctors advice and get him out of there." Asked how long he could go in a game, Jordan said, "probably 28 or 30" . . . After going 0-for-8 against Utah on Saturday night, sub Marreese Speights wasn't in his customary role as first big man off the bench. His spot was taken by Jason Smith, who logged 4 first-half minutes. Speights did come in later, and hit all three of his shots in his 7 first-half minutes.