Feisty 76ers lose a heartbreaker

The Sixers' Jodie Meeks and Denver's Ty Lawson go after the basketball during first-quarter action at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Sixers' Jodie Meeks and Denver's Ty Lawson go after the basketball during first-quarter action at the Wells Fargo Center. (YONG KIM / Staff Photographer)

They went toe-to-toe with Denver before ex-Sixer Andre Miller sealed the deal in OT.

Posted: January 19, 2012

Former 76ers guard Andre Miller is one of the more easygoing players in the NBA. He laughs a lot, and very rarely does Miller have a negative word to say about anyone, especially his old Sixers teammates.

But anyone who saw Miller almost single-handedly end the 76ers' home winning streak at six games Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center might think that Miller has nothing but loathing and malice in his heart for a team he played just a little over two seasons for before leaving via free agency.

Miller, who started the game as a reserve, dominated in the Denver Nuggets' 108-104 overtime victory over the Sixers in front of 15,201 fans. He scored 20 of his 28 points in the second half. He finished with 10 assists, also a game high, and he came up with what was the biggest play of the night, stealing the ball from the Sixers' Jrue Holiday with 3.7 seconds to play in overtime to seal the victory.

"It was a good effort," Miller said. "I do take it a little bit personal, but I had a good time here. That was probably my favorite group of guys being around. They are hard workers and they are unselfish. I enjoyed those guys over there. And really, it could have gone either way."

For sure.

It could have ended in regulation had Andre Iguodala made both of his free throws as opposed to just one with four seconds to play. That left the score tied at 96 and forced the Sixers (10-4), who battled back from 10 points down in the fourth quarter, to play extra minutes.

"I have to knock them down, that's the bottom line," said Iguodala, who had a great game nonetheless with 11 points, 10 boards, and 9 assists.

And then there was the matter of Holiday's turnover in overtime. Perhaps needing to take one more step for a layup, and with the Sixers trailing by 106-104, Holiday, in traffic, thought he could get the ball out to Iguodala on the perimeter for an uncontested jumper.

But Miller, hiding behind the big bodies in the paint, darted in front of the ball and picked it off. Fouled, Denver's Arron Afflalo sank a pair of free throws for the final margin of victory.

"I actually thought I had an open lane," said Holiday, regretting that he didn't at least attempt to lay the ball in. "I thought 'Dre was open for a three. I should have taken one more dribble because I had a layup. I'm a little disappointed because I didn't even get a shot up."

Playing without Spencer Hawes (Achilles tendon) the Sixers, who started rookie Nik Vucevic in his place, held a nine-point lead after one quarter.

But Denver, which has won four games in a row, closed the second quarter with a 26-6 run. It was during this time that the Nuggets paired Miller in the backcourt with starting point guard Ty Lawson, and the Sixers struggled.

And while they looked as if they were running out of gas toward the end of the game, the Nuggets, who played the night before, had enough energy in reserve to go 5 for 7 from the floor in overtime.

Thaddeus Young led the Sixers (10-4) with 22 points. Evan Turner added 20 for the Sixers. Nene had 20 points and 14 rebounds for the Nuggets (10-5).

Contact staff writer John N. Mitchell at jmitchell@philly.com or @deepsixer3 on Twitter.

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