Washed up? Doug Collins scoffed at the idea that veteran forward Elton Brand didn't have anything left in his 31-year-old tank coming into the 2010-11 NBA season. Rather, Collins pointed to the severity of his 2007 ruptured Achilles tendon and December 2008 dislocated shoulder as preventing Brand from being the player he could be with the Sixers.
"An Achilles injury on a 265-pound man is a lot to come back from," Collins said. "You get yourself back and (hurt the) shoulder. And you're a free agent making a lot of money, with a lot of demands in a city that demands of their athletes to 'give me my money's worth.' That's what it's supposed to be about.
"Nobody hurt more than he did. When I took the job, I talked about him about understanding this city. I know this city loves players like Elton Brand. I was never a star, but they respected me (as a player) because they knew -- moment to moment -- I was going to lay it out there. That's what EB does. If you go start to finish this year, he's been our most consistent guy. (It's) not even close. It's good to see that he's being recognized for what he does."
Brand turned in his best games in 2 1/2 years with Philly against Amar'e Stoudemire and the Knicks over the weekend. He started off with 33 points and 16 rebounds in Friday's two-point home win, then added 28 points on 10-for-14 shooting in Sunday's 14-point road defeat. Those were his two highest-scoring outings as a Sixer. He added 17 points on 5-for-6 shooting in Tuesday's one-sided victory in Atlanta.
Brand's first two years in Philly after signing a five-year, $80 million free agent contract were filled with career lows. While he's not back to averaging 20 and 10, as he did through his first nine seasons, he's leading the Sixers in scoring and rebounding.
Still, he has to feel some sense of accomplishment by battling Stoudemire, the Knicks' All-Star forward, to a standstill.
"It's just disappointing we lost (in New York)," Brand said. "I get a lot of satisfaction just winning the games at this point of my career. But it's satisfying to have back-to-back good games -- absolutely."
SIXERS 117, HAWKS 83: The Sixers led by as many as 36 points in rolling over the 33-win Hawks, a club that was 14-2 in its previous 16 games at Philips Arena. The 34-point margin of victory by Philly was its largest of the season and enabled Doug Collins' team to improve to 7-2 in its last nine. The Sixers started a stretch of four games in five nights by holding a 50-35 rebounding advantage and made more free throws (28) than the Hawks attempted (15) to improve to 8-19 on the road. Lou Williams led the six Sixers in double figures with 20 points.
"I would've never imagined this," Collins said. "We came out with a sense or purpose. Our guys were terrific."
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