Atlanta (21-44) at Philadelphia (31-35)

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Temp: 74° F
  • Game info: 7:00 pm EST Wed Mar 22, 2006
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The Philadelphia 76ers hope the return of Allen Iverson can help them shake off their recent struggles when they conclude their season series with the Atlanta Hawks.

Iverson, the NBA’s second-leading scorer with an average of 33.2 points, sat out Philadelphia’s last four games—all losses—after bruising and spraining his right foot against Memphis on March 12.

He practiced Tuesday and is expected to be in the lineup against Atlanta.

“It’s sore, but that’s what I expected,” Iverson said. “We had a couple of days off and I had a chance to practice once, so I’ll be ready to go tomorrow.”

Iverson had 53 points the last time these clubs met in December, the fifth-highest point total of his career, but Philadelphia lost 111-108 in Atlanta.

The Sixers have lost seven of eight overall to fall a season-low four games below .500, but still hold the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. Philadelphia leads ninth-place Chicago by 2 1/2 games.

“We’re trying to focus on moving up, and trying to focus on our ability, rather than Chicago,” Andre Iguodala said. “We know we’re better than eighth place.”

The Sixers ended a winless three-game road trip with a 98-89 defeat to Golden State on Sunday.

“I’m glad this trip is over, and hopefully the nightmare is over,” forward Chris Webber said. “We have to keep giving the effort we’ve been giving (when) we get Allen back, who we need more than we know, more than anybody can say.”

The Sixers have lost six of eight this season without Iverson in the lineup, and including the playoffs, are 40-62 overall when he sits out.

“We have to want to play,” said John Salmons, who averaged 14.5 points over the last four games starting in place of Iverson. “There is no excuse. … Thankfully, Chicago keeps losing games. We are still in the playoffs so we have to stay with it and keep trying.”

The Hawks lost for the fifth time in six games Monday, 91-84 to the Detroit Pistons. Atlanta fell behind by 19 points at halftime before closing to within 10 late in the third quarter, but couldn’t come all the way back.

“I’m pretty pleased with our effort and the way we fought back in the second half,” coach Mike Woodson said. “After the nine minute mark (of the third), we kind of went haywire that last three or four minutes of the quarter and instead of coming out of the quarter down by six or seven, we were down by 10.”

Atlanta has lost four straight in Philadelphia, including a 106-101 defeat on Dec. 14 in the teams’ first meeting this season.

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