After beating the conference leaders and losing to another playoff contender to open their road trip west, the Philadelphia 76ers will probably welcome a game against a team that has little reason to care about the standings anymore.
The 76ers look for their fifth win in six games when they visit the Golden State Warriors on Friday.
Philadelphia (34-32) has split the first two games of its five-game road trip against teams from the West, beating the conference-leading Lakers by one point Tuesday in Los Angeles, then losing 126-116 at Phoenix - the current ninth-place team in the West - the following night.
Against the Suns, the 76ers showed the effects of playing on back-to-back nights, getting outscored 63-50 in the second half. Andre Miller scored 13 of his 23 points in the first half and was limited to just two points in the fourth quarter. Andre Iguodala, who hit a game-winning shot at the buzzer against the Lakers, was held to 11 points against Phoenix. He’d averaged 23.7 in the previous three games.
“I think they wore us down at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth,” Suns coach Tony DiLeo said. “We just couldn’t stop them.”
Making the loss more frustrating, Philadelphia missed a chance to gain ground in the Eastern Conference playoff race after Miami lost to Boston. The Sixers are sixth in the East - 1 1/2 games behind the fifth-place Heat and 1 1/2 ahead of seventh-place Detroit.
Despite Wednesday’s outcome, the 76ers - who rank 24th in the league in scoring at 96.9 points per game -had their most prolific offensive game since Jan. 24, when they beat New York 116-110 at home.
The 76ers may need another high-scoring performance to keep up with the Warriors (24-44), whose 108.7 points per game lead the league. Golden State has averaged 119.7 in its last six contests.
Though the Warriors are out of playoff contention, the Sixers say they won’t overlook them. Philadelphia, which beat Golden State 89-81 at home on Nov. 23, hasn’t swept this season series since 2000-01.
“A lot of times teams that are eliminated throw players out there that haven’t played a lot and they want to prove what they can do and they have nothing to lose, so they just go out there and play,” DiLeo said.
Golden State has lost two of three and eight of its last 12, including a 114-106 defeat to the Lakers on Thursday in Los Angeles. Monta Ellis scored 27 points and Kelenna Azubuike added 25 in the defeat as the Warriors failed to earn their fourth win in five games.
“We want to finish this season strong,” said forward Brandan Wright, who had 11 points and 10 rebounds. “We feel like we can be up there next year with all the talent we have and the way we play.”
Ellis is averaging 26.0 points on 57.1 percent shooting in his last five contests after missing the previous seven games with a sore left ankle. He also missed the Warriors’ first game against Philadelphia this season while recovering from an offseason ankle injury.