The Sixers right now are about as confident as Charlie Sheen is wackadoodled, and no one is playing with more confidence than Iguodala, who held Granger to 11 points and contributed 16 points, 10 assists and two each of steals and blocks. He is now averaging 11 assists in his past three games.
"I've said it all season long that he is such an integral part of this team," said Elton Brand, who posted 12 points and eight rebounds. "When people were talking about trade or whatever, I said that I didn't know what player out there is going to bring the defense he brings, the unselfishness he brings and the ability to score that he brings. It's all the intangibles that he brings to this club."
Intangibles are a key ingredient to this club right now. The bench is among the best in the NBA. They are getting consistent scoring from "two" guard Jodie Meeks, who posted his fifth straight double-figure scoring game with 15 points. The offense has averaged 109.4 points and shot better than 51 percent over the last eight games and the defense has clamped down when needed.
"Coach [Doug Collins] is orchestrating out there," Brand said. "He is doing a great job of putting in the right parts and guys are stepping up - off the bench or the starters. Whatever it is, we're playing well."
If there had been a chink in the armor recently, it was the team's inability to get out of the gate quickly. They rectified that last night, scoring 34 in the first, making 60 percent of their shots and jumping to an 11-point lead. They followed the lead of Iguodala, who went for eight points in the first and held Granger scoreless on only two shots.
"Our starters have been starting slow, and tonight was huge for us," Collins said. "We got our defense set, and we had a great first quarter. Andre Iguodala was fantastic. It shows how competitive he is and what he means to our team."
It certainly wasn't a solo performance. All five starters scored in double figures, including Jrue Holiday (16) and Spencer Hawes (12). Thaddeus Young again was tremendous off the bench, making nine of his 13 shots en route to 18 points, and Evan Turner collected 10.
"Give credit to Philadelphia, they were the better team," said Indiana coach Frank Vogel, whose team has lost five of seven, including four in a row, and is now six games behind the Sixers for the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference.
They have been that for the most part lately, a lot of it because of Iguodala.
"If I have 0-0-0 [points, rebounds and assists] and we won the game, I'm happy," Iguodala said. "We have a lot of young guys, so it's important they have success in the NBA. I'm just trying to be a good leader and veteran and help those guys understand the importance of games like this. We really needed this game. It was important for us to go out and get a good start to the week [which includes four games in 5 nights, including tonight against Oklahoma City at the Wells Fargo Center]."
An important start to the week, which was perpetuated by the good start to this game, which dropped the Pacers to 27-36.
"[Darren] Collison ate us up last time," Collins said, of the Pacers' point guard. "We were going to be much more aggressive on him and trap him, because when they play the big lineup, they have one less shooter on the floor, so you can trap Collison. That was critical for our defense to be much more aggressive on him. We were, and Jrue did a really good job."
Good play has become expected. When leads start to falter, the feeling is the bleeding will be stopped. Breakdowns on offense are soon rectified by key defensive stops.
"We're riding high right now," Brand said. "The confidence is very high."
Confidence is not something that usually builds quickly with such a young group. Iguodala's play has helped it get to where it is, on both ends of the floor.
So what's up with the inflated offensive numbers over the past eight games?
"When you start playing those Western Conference teams, the tempo of the game gets up a little bit," coach Doug Collins said. "We had Minnesota and Golden State, when the possessions of the game get up. We've done a much better job of executing. We've always made the extra pass, and we spend so much time every day on shooting. I would venture to say that we probably shoot as much as any team in the NBA on a daily basis.
"I learned that from Johnny Bach a long time ago. He said, 'Don't think you're going to be able to shoot the ball if you don't spend time shooting it.' You can spend all the time you want running plays, but if you can't make shots, that play isn't worth a nickel. So we shoot, we shoot and we shoot some more. We shoot in the areas that we think we're going to get our shots, and we try to take high-percentage shots, and that really helps us."
The Pacers were without swingman Mike Dunleavy, has a broken left thumb . . . Jason Kapono is still away from the Sixers because of personal reasons . . . The Sixers never trailed in the game . . . Tyler Hansbrough led the Pacers with 26 points. *
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