The Philadelphia 76ers have won two games in a row for the first time since late November and will try to make it three straight Monday night when they host the Orlando Magic.
The Sixers toppled the Washington Wizards and Sacramento Kings, both at home, for this mini winning streak. They've won three of four, again, all in the Wells Fargo Center, where they will still have three more home contests after Monday before hitting the road just before the All-Star break.
"Two in a row finally, which is good," said head coach Doug Collins. "We sure don't make anything easy."
Against the Kings, the Sixers nearly squandered a 19-point lead in the third quarter, but held Sacramento to 12 in the final frame. Thaddeus Young, Nick Young and Jrue Holiday all scored 20 or more, but the Sixers committed 20 turnovers, including eight by Holiday, who leads the NBA in that category.
"We've got to clean that up," said Collins.
But, the Sixers have improved of late and a move by Collins might carry the explanation. Collins swapped Spencer Hawes and Nick Young into the starting lineup for Lavoy Allen and the injured Jason Richardson. Philly is 3-1 with this starting group and Nick Young has responded. He's averaged 17.7 ppg as a starter in the last four.
Injuries are just crippling the Magic. Forward Glen Davis is most likely out for the season with a fractured left foot, Arron Afflalo has been sidelined for the last four contests with a strained left calf and point guard Jameer Nelson sat out the Magic's last game, a 107-98 setback at Milwaukee, with a left forearm contusion.
Against the Bucks, the Magic started two rookies -- Andrew Nicholson and Moe Harkless -- and two second-year players in Nikola Vucevic and E'Twaun Moore, alongside J.J. Redick.
"This group continues to show themselves," said head coach Jacque Vaughn. "The competitive nature from every guy who stepped on the floor was great to see."
Harkless scored a career-high 19 points and grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds against the Bucks. Vucevic had 20 points and 12 boards as he's seventh in the NBA in rebounding.
Those two players were the first-round draft picks of the Sixers in 2011 and 2012. Both were included in last summer's blockbuster trade for Andrew Bynum, who has yet to play a minute for the 76ers.
Nelson and Afflalo are both listed as day-to-day for the Magic. Nelson played his college basketball in Philadelphia at St. Joseph's University.
The Magic took three out of four from the Sixers last season and have captured 21 of the last 26 between the two teams.