The Philadelphia 76ers have put together one of their best stretches of the season even though Sam Dalembert continues to be distracted by much more urgent issues.
With his thoughts focused on his native Haiti, the 76ers’ steady center looks to continue his strong play in a matchup with the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday afternoon.
Philadelphia (13-26), struggling in its bid to make a third straight postseason appearance, has won three of four. The Sixers had five players score in double figures in a 98-86 win over Sacramento on Friday night.
Dalembert had another strong game, posting 17 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks after learning that an uncle, who had been feared dead in Haiti, was alive.
The NBA’s only Haitian, Dalembert remains distracted by first-hand accounts of the death and destruction in earthquake-ravaged Port-au-Prince. Still, the veteran big man continues what has been a strong month, averaging 13.5 points, 14.3 rebounds and 2.8 blocks over his last six games.
“As soon as the game starts, my mind is basically on the game,” he said. “I try to not think about anything. The game is a good distraction.”
Brand had 14 points as a reserve after being benched for entire fourth quarters a month ago. The veteran forward has had trouble fitting in after signing a five-year, $80 million contract in July 2008.
“I’m glad to be out there and contribute to winning,” Brand said. “That’s what hurt the most, losing and not being out there. Being out there trying to help, you feel good about yourself.”
Philadelphia leading scorer Andre Iguodala(notes) has struggled over the last two contests, scoring 16 points on 6-of-22 shooting. The forward, though, contributed 10 rebounds and seven assists versus the Kings despite injuring his right ankle in the first quarter.
Iguodala said his ankle was bothering him “quite a lot,” but he isn’t expected to miss any time. He’s shooting 41.6 percent in 10 games against Minnesota (8-33), averaging 15.3 points during that span.
The Timberwolves have given up at least 100 points in 10 straight games, including a 135-110 loss to Memphis on Friday night in one of their poorest defensive performances of the season. The only time Minnesota gave up more points this season was in a 146-105 loss to Golden State on Nov. 9.
The Wolves, who concluded a winless four-game road trip, may have been tired following a 120-114 triple-overtime loss to Houston on Wednesday night.
Love had 14 points after being held under 10 in two of his previous three contests. Love, who will be battling Dalembert and Brand in the paint, has blossomed in his second year, averaging 15.2 points and 12.3 rebounds.
Love was held to a combined 21 points in two games against Philadelphia last season, with the Sixers and Wolves each winning at home. Philadelphia has lost seven of its last eight at Minnesota.