76ers hope to build momentum, welcome Blazers to town
The Philadelphia 76ers will search for a third win in their last four games Monday night when they welcome the Portland Trail Blazers to the Wells Fargo Center.
The Sixers have played much better of late as evidenced by wins against Eastern Conference playoff teams - the Brooklyn Nets and Indiana Pacers. The only loss during that stretch was against the Miami Heat and the Sixers fought them hard before becoming just another victim in the 22-game winning streak.
On Saturday night, it was Spencer Hawes who was the hero for the 76ers. The big man registered 18 points, 16 rebounds, eight assists and seven blocks and, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, Hawes became the first player since Hakeem Olajuwon 23 years ago to put up that kind of statistical performance in one night.
"Spencer, wow, he has been terrific," said 76ers coach Doug Collins.
Jrue Holiday led the way for the Sixers on Saturday with 27 points and 12 assists. Thaddeus Young, Dorell Wright, Evan Turner and Damien Wilkins all scored in double figures.
The Sixers complete a four-game homestand Monday night, then hit the road for four games out west. They will tangle with the Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets, Sacramento Kings and Utah Jazz on the upcoming sojourn west.
The Blazers are just starting a five-game eastern trip that will see them face the Sixers, Bucks, Bulls, Hawks and Thunder. With the exception of Monday's opponent, the others are all headed to the postseason, which is somewhere Portland would like to be.
The Blazers are 10th in the Western Conference standings, but just 3 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the eighth and final spot. With Kobe Bryant injured, who knows what can happen, but the Blazers need to take care of their own business first.
They've won two in a row before heading east. The most recent victory came on Saturday night when the Trail Blazers handled the Detroit Pistons 112-101 at home.
LaMarcus Aldridge overcame early foul trouble and the Blazers overcame a first-half deficit to get the victory. Aldridge finished with 31 points and 12 rebounds as all five Blazers starters scored in double figures.
"He told me he needs to get two fouls early more often," coach Terry Stotts joked. "He had it going. He created a problem on the block all night whether he was scoring, passing, making his jump shot, rebounding. When he sat out in the first quarter and we were struggling, he came back into the game pretty aggressive for the rest of the night."
The Blazers are 9-23 on the road this season.
Portland has taken three in a row from the Sixers, including a Dec. 29 meeting in Portland. The Blazers have dropped three of their last four in Philadelphia.