The Philadelphia 76ers may have taken Minnesota lightly last month. They certainly can’t overlook the Timberwolves now.
Enjoying their best stretch of the season, the 76ers return home Tuesday night to face a Timberwolves team that has every reason to be confident as it tries for a sweep of the season series.
Philadelphia (19-31) has won a season-high four straight after losing five of its previous seven. The 76ers haven’t won five in a row since a seven-game run Jan. 6-17, 2009.
“We’re in a good groove right now,” point guard Lou Williams told the Sixers’ official Web site. “Hopefully we can bottle it up, continue on that road and try to finish out these last two games before the (All-Star) break and create some momentum.”
Philadelphia returns to the Wachovia Center after overcoming a 13-point deficit to win 102-95 at Houston on Saturday night.
In their last matchup with the Wolves (13-38), though, the 76ers blew a 20-point lead on the road in a 108-103 overtime loss Jan. 18 at.
Minnesota lost its next five, but the Western Conference’s worst team hasn’t been defeated since.
The Wolves have won four in a row, one shy of their longest winning streak from last season. The current streak includes a 109-102 victory over Memphis on Saturday night and a 117-108 win at Dallas the previous evening.
Minnesota is 4-5 against the current top four teams in the West - accounting for nearly one-third of its total wins in 2009-10.
Ryan Gomes(notes) had 26 points and Al Jefferson(notes) added 23 in the victory over the Grizzlies. Jefferson, who has struggled at times following reconstructive right knee surgery last season, is shooting 62.3 percent (33 for 53) over his last four games.
Jefferson has posted 17.8 points per game, 5.3 fewer than last season. Though Jefferson has been mentioned in trade rumors, Minnesota president of basketball operations David Kahn insists he isn’t shopping the veteran big man.
“We have not had one discussion that we initiated involving Al Jefferson,” Kahn said. “Not one. And yet it hasn’t stopped people from saying that he has been talked about in trades. Not true.”
Andre Iguodala(notes), meanwhile, led the Sixers with 17 points. Iguodala’s scoring is down slightly - he’s averaging 13.6 points over his last nine games - but he has been valuable to Philadelphia in other ways.
“He’s first a defender for us,” coach Eddie Jordan said. “He’s our defensive catalyst. When he gets to people, gets deflections and steals the ball, that’s big for us. We don’t look for him to be a high-volume shooter or anything like that, just a guy who does a lot of things well.”
Philadelphia is allowing an average of 93.5 points over its last six games, and the only time it’s yielded 100 in that span was in an overtime contest - a 106-103 victory over Chicago last Wednesday.