NEWARK, N.J. - In the past couple of days, Doug Collins labeled Andre Iguodala a "triple-double guy." The 76ers coach then tweaked his offense a tad so Iguodala would be handling the ball a little more to take the pressure off second-year point guard Jrue Holiday.
Collins had the triple-double thing right, just the wrong player, at least last night.
Holiday posted the first tri-doub of his young career with 11 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds in leading the Sixers to a 106-92 drubbing of the New Jersey Nets at the Prudential Center. The win was the fifth in six games for the Sixers, who improved to 22-26. The Nets, who had won five of their previous six at home, dropped to 15-35.
"I guess it just kind of came," said an obviously giddy Holiday. "Every loose ball, every rebound just kind of came to me. You saw 'Dre and Spencer [Hawes] running, and if they run I'm going to pass it to them."
While Holiday was stuck on nine rebounds for much of the fourth quarter, having already reached double figures in the other categories, his teammates certainly let him know what he needed to do.
"Jodie [Meeks] told me about five times, 'Dre told me about six, [Tony Battie] told me, too. I knew I needed the one more rebound and they kept telling me to get it. And I went in and got that one. I went up for it," Holiday said.
"It's a great accomplishment. Not too many people have done it. Well, I guess a lot of the greatest have done it. Like coach [Aaron] McKie said, 'Welcome to the exclusive club.' "
The Sixers are inching ever closer to the .500 club, something that seemed virtually impossible after a 3-13 start.
"When you dig yourself a 10-game hole, that's tough," Collins said. "But we have seven road wins and eight home losses, so we're one under .500 by my math. We got to keep it going.
"That was a terrific win for our guys on the road. New Jersey has been playing great here. They're a very good defensive team. The key was we had 35 fastbreak points tonight, which we got off our defense. We got some steals, got out in the open court."
The only thing more noticeable than missed shots for most of the night were players tapping themselves on their chests while looking over to their coaches.
A lot of "my bads" were performed, but mostly by the Nets, who lost their seventh straight game to the Sixers, including all three this season. In the three losses, New Jersey has averaged just 85 points.
Before the game was 7 minutes old, the Sixers had made five of their seven shots and jumped to a 10-point lead. But New Jersey concentrated on getting the ball in the paint and wound up making nine of its last 11 shots of the first quarter to pull within two. At one point in the second quarter, the Sixers missed 13 of 16 from the floor, and still went to the locker room at the half with a 53-44 lead.
Whatever Collins told his club at the intermission, he should bottle and preserve. His team came out faster than a nor'easter, creating turnovers and successfully getting out on the fastbreak. A 16-2 run, which featured the ejection of Nets coach Avery Johnson on a double-technical, gave the Sixers their biggest lead, 69-48, on an over-the-head slam by Iguodala.
Iguodala seemed to be more active on the offensive end in the first game since being anointed by Collins as the team's "point forward." Still with a pass-first mentality, Iguodala did appear to look for his shot a little more and finished with 16 points.
Lou Williams' 26 points led the Sixers, who went 18-for-18 from the foul line. Jodie Meeks scored 15, and Elton Brand collected 15 points and 10 rebounds. Spencer Hawes corraled 12 rebounds to go along with eight points in his 28 minutes.
Brook Lopez, Devin Harris and Kris Humphries each scored 16 to lead the Nets (15-35).
As they are prone to do, the Sixers frittered away their big lead as the Nets scored 18 of the final 27 points to get within 12 at the end of the third. But the Sixers held solid in the fourth, never allowing New Jersey to get closer than 11.
"I think when we have the big lead we get a little lax and we get tentative and stuff," Collins said. "We stopped looking for baskets. But we had enough defensive stops to push the lead again."
They also got timely scoring from Iguodala and Williams down the stretch, along with tough rebounds and a key three-point play from Brand to ensure the win. And to make the night a little sweeter for Holiday.
"Jrue really stepped up," Brand said. "He played really good all-around defense, passed the ball. I let him get that last rebound so he could get his first triple-double. Lou came off the bench and scored, Spencer, even though he didn't shoot well [4-for-14], but the defense he played and the rebounding was key."
Williams couldn't help but point out that he was a key reason his backcourt mate was able to put up the big stats.
"Hey, I make shots," he said. "That's the only way I can really help him."
Nets assistant coach Sam Mitchell took over after Avery Johnson was thrown out in the middle of the second quarter, when he thought a foul should have been called on Elton Brand after he stripped Devin Harris of the ball. They were Johnson's first and second techs of the season . . . The Sixers start a home-and-home with New York tomorrow night at the Wells Fargo Center before a noon game Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
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