NEW YORK Andre Iguodala is the defensive leader on the best defensive team in the NBA.
On Sunday afternoon, Iguodala led an effort that held the Knicks to 41 percent shooting and forced 18 turnovers en route to the Sixers winning their third straight game, 106-94.
Carmelo Anthony was Iguodalas individual assignment. Anthony scored 12 points in the first quarter on 5-for-7 shooting. He was 0 for 6 the rest of they way, though he added 10 made free throws for 22 points in the game.
Iguodala shuts down the best scorers in the league or at least keeps them under control while one-on-one.
I told Dre after the game how much I appreciate him and his team appreciates him, Doug Collins said. We are on a winning team now, which is recognition to him for what he does best and that is to be an all-around player.
And I think he is the best perimeter defender in the NBA.
Iguodala finished with 19 points, attempting 11 shots. He had eight assists, seven rebounds and four steals and in the win for the Sixers (25-17) on Sunday. Most people would take those numbers any day of the week, let alone when you throw in Iguodalas lock-down defense.
Iguodala believes his offense over the years has actually taken away from his defensive prowess.
When I was just a straight defensive player my first three or four years in the league, I was a better defender than now because it was all I did, he said. I just locked guys down. I had great defensive years but I didnt get recognized for it. Some guys in this league get noticed for things, other guys dont. We are winning now and I guess that has something to do with it.
The Sixers have played 42 games and they continue to allow the fewest points in the league, while their opponents field goal percentage also leads the league. It all starts with Iguodala.
I think about Gary Payton and how he played, Iguodala said. They considered him a defensive stopper but he put a lot of pressure on guys at the offensive end because he made them guard him and that played a big part of it.
If you make them work when they are on defense, it takes a little bit off their legs when they have the ball in their hands and trying to score. That, and knowing guys trends and stuff they like to do all helps.
Iguodala says more then anything its wanting it more. That defensive attitude is contagious. Iguodala sees that attitude in Jrue Holiday too.
On Sunday, Holiday was just 2 for 14 from the floor but his defense on Jeremy Lin was great. Lin was 5 for 18 for 14 points. He had five assists and six turnovers.
I have always said that Jrue is one of the best defensive players I have ever seen, Iguodala said. I get a lot of praise for defense but as far as staying in front of guys and pressuring those quick point guards. People dont understand how hard that is and he does an excellent job of guarding them.
I think defense goes a long way, Holiday said. A lot of guys stay in the league because of defense and defense wins championships. This team in here is really trying to buy into what Michael Curry is teaching us defensively. Our defense tends to trigger our offense.
For three straight games the Sixers offense, which a short while ago was running on fumes, has totaled at least 100 points and, yes, they can thank their defense for that offensive jolt.
E-mail Dei Lynam at email@example.com