The reeling Philadelphia 76ers arrive in Brew City Monday hoping to steady the ship a bit when they hit the hardwood against the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Sixers still lead the Atlantic Division but are mired in their worst stretch of the season. Philadelphia started the truncated campaign by racing out to a 20-9 start but has since dropped seven of nine to quickly come back to the pack.
The 76ers' latest defeat came Sunday in south Philly, a 96-91 setback to the 31-8 Chicago Bulls, who rode Derrick Rose's 35 points and eight assists to the victory.
Thaddeus Young had 17 points and nine rebounds for the Sixers, who lead the Atlantic by two games over Boston. Jrue Holiday chipped in 16 points while Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand and Nikola Vucevic had 14 apiece.
Iguodala, however, badly missed a pair of three-pointers in the waning seconds that could have tied the game or given Philadelphia the lead.
The Sixers are now 2-7 this season in games decided by five or fewer points after finishing 8-17 in 2010-11.
"I don't know where to start," Sixers coach Doug Collins said. "It just seems like it's been the same old script here at home against these really good teams. Play well enough to win and then just can't find it coming down the stretch."
Perhaps the key to Philadelphia's recent woes has been the absence of center Spencer Hawes (strained left Achilles), who will remain on the sidelines tonight for the Sixers. Philadelphia is 12-2 with the big man in the lineup and just 10-14 without him as it attempts to make due with two rookies in the pivot, Lavoy Allen and Vucevic.
Milwaukee, which is opening up a tough three-game homestand tonight that will also feature visits from Chicago and New York, has dropped three straight and nine of 11 after Saturday's 114-98 setback in Orlando.
Brandon Jennings scored 27 points to lead the Bucks and Ersan Ilyasova had 18 but Milwaukee lost to the Magic for the fourth time in 22 days. Overall, Orlando has seven in a row against the Bucks and 17 of the last 20 in the series.
"We gave ourselves a chance, but they're better than us," said Bucks coach Scott Skiles.
The Sixers snapped a two-game skid to Milwaukee with a 94-82 win in Philadelphia on Jan. 16.