Now a 34-year-old in his second stint with the team, Iverson will try to help the Sixers avoid their longest losing streak in nearly 13 years as the Golden State Warriors visit Philadelphia on Monday.
The Sixers (5-18) have already dropped 12 straight to match their skid from Nov. 25-Dec. 20, 2006, which resulted in the Dec. 19 trade of Iverson to Denver.
With point guard Lou Williams injured, Philadelphia reacquired its longtime star earlier this month, but Iverson hasn’t immediately helped the reeling team. A five-game homestand for the Sixers has begun with three straight defeats, including a 96-91 loss to Houston on Friday.
“Right now is the time to try to stay positive because it’s easy to tuck your tails between your legs and go hide,” reserve guard Willie Green(notes) said. “But you have to continue to fight and stay together and hopefully things change for us.”
Philadelphia last dropped 13 in a row Dec. 28, 1996-Jan. 20, 1997, en route to a 22-60 finish during Iverson’s rookie season.
A sluggish offense has been the biggest problem lately, with the Sixers averaging 86.7 points and shooting 41.8 percent from the field in three games since Iverson joined the lineup. He scored 20 points but shot 7 of 18 against the Rockets.
The Sixers were outscored 28-13 in the third quarter of that game but still fought back to make it close, and first-year Philadelphia coach Eddie Jordan said his players are still putting in good efforts.
“We know that we are not going to play a perfect game, but we did play hard, we did play smart for the most part,” Jordan said. “We are all going to make mistakes. The locker room is solid. They are professionals. They come to work every day and they are still playing together.”
Monday’s game could present a good opportunity for the Sixers to end their slide before difficult matchups later this week with Cleveland and Boston.
The depleted Warriors (7-16) are 3-11 on the road. They’ve dropped three of four to begin this five-game trip, which they’re playing without coach Don Nelson as he recovers from pneumonia.
They lost at Chicago and Detroit over the weekend, with Saturday’s 104-95 loss to the Pistons highlighting Golden State’s defensive problems as Detroit shot 54.2 percent from the field. The Warriors rank last in the NBA in opponent field-goal percentage at 49.2.
A bevy of injuries haven’t helped the Warriors, with Andris Biedrins(notes), Raja Bell(notes) and Brandan Wright(notes) among the players who remain sidelined. Including undrafted rookie Chris Hunter(notes), the team had nine healthy players against Detroit. Leading scorer Monta Ellis(notes) was forced to play the full 48 minutes for the third time in the last five games.
“We just don’t have enough bodies out there right now,” acting Warriors coach Keith Smart said. “These guys are giving it everything they’ve got, but when your roster is this small, your margin for error disappears.”
Golden State has won six of its last seven against the Sixers, but lost 89-81 in its most recent visit to Philadelphia on Nov. 23, 2008.