Sixers' injuries: How about a hand for Brand and a knee for Dre?

Andre Iguodala is playing with same knee ailment as Chase Utley.
Andre Iguodala is playing with same knee ailment as Chase Utley.
Posted: March 16, 2011

LOS ANGELES - When he looks at the long haul that is the NBA season, 76ers coach Doug Collins has often commented on the importance of his two veteran leaders and warriors, Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand.

With just 15 games left in the regular season, Collins is going to have to go forward with two wounded warriors.

Following Monday's 112-107 overtime loss at Utah, it was revealed that Iguodala was suffering from chondromalacia, an irritation of the cartilage below the kneecap. It is the same injury that has kept Chase Utley out of the Phillies' lineup throughout spring training. Iguodala doesn't seem to think he is going to be shelved like Utley.

"It started probably a couple of weeks ago," Iguodala said after the team had a partial practice at the Lakers' practice facility in El Segundo. "It's normal when you play a lot of games, play a lot of minutes, and you start to get these little nags. I've had this once before and I've had the tendinitis since college, so it's just something you deal with when playing a lot of basketball."

It has been an unusual injury-plagued season for Iguodala, who has battled knee, Achilles' and wrist ailments and missed 12 games. He and the team say he is day-to-day, but he said he hopes to be able to play against the Clippers tonight at the Staples Center.

The injury is more commonly known as "runner's knee," and really the only remedy is rest.

"We've been playing a lot of games, it's about to be nine in [14] days," Iguodala said. "Right now it's important for us to string a couple of wins together. We've dropped two [in a row], a tough one [Monday] night.

"I felt like we had a good day today, communicating with each other; we got a good film session in."

For Brand, the problems are two aching hands, not a good problem to have when you're constantly banging down low, usually against bigger opponents.

Brand twice dislocated the pinkie on his right (shooting) hand in the past 10 days, and also banged the back of his left hand in the loss to Oklahoma City last week. At the beginning of the Utah game, Brand had a splint on the pinkie and padding taped to the back of his other hand. Those were removed and tossed in frustration during the first half, during which he shot just 1-for-7.

"It's nothing that's preventing me from playing, but there's definitely soreness," Brand said. "It's just not having the confidence in using your hands. Even things like getting up from sitting down, you take things for granted how much you use your pinkie or how much you use your hand, things like that. You're wrestling with big guys in the post and trying to keep them out, that stuff's all hand-related - going for blocks, going to the hole strong, you don't want to get hit. Then it becomes mental that you just want to get through it."

Brand is a creature of habit, getting out on the court long before tipoff to get in his pregame work. He doesn't like change, and the padding and splint that were cumbersome on his hands are not part of his daily ritual.

"It was part frustration, but anything you add that you're not used to is the first thing you blame," he said of ditching them. "I shot much, much better with those things off."

Brand wound up hitting seven of his final 10 shots and finished with 19 points in what was a tough loss after a dismal first half in which the Sixers fell behind by as many as 21 to the struggling Jazz.

For the first hour of practice, the Sixers watched film from that Utah game before getting in some shooting.

"We got together and put the last 5 minutes of the game on," coach Doug Collins said. "I had [assistant coaches] Michael Curry and Aaron McKie go through it. I think sometimes it's good to hear another voice. It was disappointing, but very much encouraging what we did in the second half. [Monday] night there was no excuse to start the game the way we did and the players know that . . . I hope the team we saw in the second half is going to be the team we see in the last 15 games."

As for Iguodala's and Brand's injuries, Collins expressed his obvious concern.

"Any time you start getting a little swelling in your knee or your knee is sore, that's very concerning to me. I need Dre out there. We know that when we take Dre off the floor, we can't let those offensive guys get started," Collins said of the importance of Iguodala shutting down the other team's top player. "Dre gutted that game out [Monday] night. E.B. playing with two incredibly sore hands. Those guys have to be the poster boys of what we're trying to get accomplished here."

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