The Philadelphia 76ers are hoping Allen Iverson’s(notes) impending arrival will help them turn things around, but they’d prefer to have already ended their lengthy losing streak before the return of the franchise’s former star.
The Charlotte Bobcats, meanwhile, will have something to prove as they host the Sixers on Saturday night, one night after they helped another team end the longest run of losses to start a season in league history.
Philadelphia’s eight-game skid is its longest since a 12-game slide from Nov. 25-Dec. 20, 2006, which helped expedite the Dec. 19 trade of Iverson to Denver after the outspoken veteran had led the Sixers offensively for nearly a decade.
This time, the team’s struggles - combined with Lou Williams’ broken jaw, which is expected to keep the young point guard out two months - prompted Philadelphia (5-14) to bring back Iverson, who had been a free agent after parting ways with Memphis on Nov. 16 following a three-game stint.
“He’s a proven scorer, a winner, the toughest guy in the league. He’s an asset and he’s going to be a positive light for us,” reserve Jason Kapono(notes) said. “We need to take care of our last game here. Hopefully we can get a win in Charlotte and then go back home, add him and go from there.”
Iverson will make his second debut for the Sixers at home against Denver on Monday, but first his teammates will try to defeat a team coached by Larry Brown, who clashed with Iverson during his time with Philadelphia.
It hasn’t been easy for the Sixers lately regardless of their opponent. Five of their losses during the streak have come by six or fewer points, and first-year coach Eddie Jordan said he feels like his team must play a “near-perfect game” to end the slide.
Philadelphia wasn’t close to perfect defensively during a 117-106 defeat at Oklahoma City on Wednesday.
“Every game, it’s been something that’s been getting us,” guard Willie Green(notes) said. “Whether it’s executing down the stretch, whether it’s making sure we get that last stop or making sure we’re in sync on defense, we’re half a step slow a little bit and hopefully we can just continue to get better and find a way to win a game.”
The Bobcats (7-11) had won a season-high four straight before a lopsided home loss to Boston on Tuesday, They followed that with a 97-91 loss at New Jersey on Friday, earning them the ignominy of becoming the first team to lose to the Nets after their NBA-record 0-18 start.
Charlotte lost despite 28 points each from Stephen Jackson(notes) and Raymond Felton(notes) and 20 rebounds from Gerald Wallace(notes). The team got little help from its bench, with Flip Murray’s(notes) five points the only ones coming from the Bobcats’ reserves.
“We had some bad stuff happening,” Brown said. “Turnovers. Fouled 3-point shooters.”
The Bobcats had been the last team to lose to New Jersey, 91-87 on April 13, and they were also the victims in Philadelphia’s most recent victory.
The Sixers won 86-84 at home on Nov. 18, but Charlotte has won the last three meetings between the teams at home, where it is 6-3 this season.