76ers, Wizards meet again in south Philly
The Atlantic Division-leading Philadelphia 76ers hope to get back to their winning ways when they attempt to keep lowly Washington winless on the road tonight.
The Sixers, who will be kicking off a season-long seven-game homestand, are the only team in the Atlantic playing over .500 ball and lead the division by 4 1/2 games thanks to their 11-5 record.
Philadelphia, however, has dropped two out of three against some better competition recently. The latest setback came in Miami on Saturday and was the Sixers' worst of the season, a 113-92 rout at the hands of a Dwyane Wade-less Heat team.
Miami's other two stars, LeBron James and Chris Bosh, carried the load, combining for 58 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists in a rematch of last year's Eastern Conference quarterfinals series.
Lou Williams netted 22 points off the bench for the 76ers, who lost for the 10th straight time in South Beach if you include the postseason. Evan Turner added 16 points, six rebounds and four assists, while rookie Nikola Vucevic finished with 13 points and nine boards despite injuring his left leg.
"They were ready tonight. They were very sharp from the start. We fought, hung around there a little bit and stuff. They wore us down," Philadelphia head coach Doug Collins said.
The Sixers continued to play without starting center Spencer Hawes, who has been struggling with a balky balk and a strained left Achilles. Philadelphia is just 1-3 on the season when its 7-footer isn't in the lineup.
Hawes is listed as questionable for tonight and if the big man can't go the Sixers will be paper thin up front. Vucevic hyperextended his left knee and strained his left quadriceps in Miami and is doubtful for tonight's contest.
Philadelphia, which is an impressive 7-1 at Wells Fargo Center, will also host New Jersey, Charlotte, Detroit, Orlando, Chicago and the Heat on its residency.
The Wizards, meanwhile, come in off their latest loss to Boston on Sunday. Paul Pierce led the short-handed Celtics in that one with a season-high 34 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds, and Boston held off a late charge from Washington to win, 100-94, at the Verizon Center.
John Wall anchored Washington's scoring attack with 27 points, while adding a season-high 10 boards and seven assists as the Wizards finished a five-game homestand at 1-4.
Javale McGee added 13 points and three blocked shots for Washington, which has dropped six of seven overall and has the NBA's worst record at 2-14.
"Ten days ago we weren't competing at a high level," Wizards coach Flip Saunders said. "We've gotten to the point now we're competing at a high level. Now we've got to find a way to close out these games."
Wall has been the biggest difference in Washington's improved play lately, averaging 24.4 points, 8.2 rebounds and 8.4 assists in his last five games
Philadelphia has won four straight overall against the Wizards by an average of nearly 20 points, including a home-and-home sweep back on Jan. 13-14.