PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Samuel Dalembert endures incessant teasing from his teammates on a daily basis. They believe the sixth-year center has All-Star caliber potential.
“We joke with Sam a lot and push him,” Philadelphia’s Willie Green said. “He knows we’re trying to motivate him. Look at what he did. He was big. We expect a lot about of him. He’s playing like we know he can. We expect him to block every shot.”
Dalembert had 18 points, 11 rebounds and tied a career high with nine blocked shots while Andre Iguodala scored 25 points to help the Philadelphia 76ers win their season-best fourth in a row, 98-94 Wednesday night over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Green added 18 points, and Andre Miller had 10 to help the suddenly surging Sixers improve to 9-13.
Dalembert, also had nine blocks on April 3, 2004, against New York, said he feels more agile on the court after dropping 22 pounds since training camp began in October.
“I feel lighter,” Dalembert said. “I feel good in the fourth quarter.”
Al Jefferson had 22 points and 11 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who fell to an NBA-worst 3-17 and lost for the seventh time in eight games. Rashad McCants scored 15 and Marko Jaric and Antoine Walker had 14 each for Minnesota, which lost for the second straight night. The Timberwolves, now 1-9 on the road, also lost 102-88 at Washington on Tuesday.
“The arena was kind of dead and that’s what we played like,” Minnesota coach Randy Wittman said.
The Sixers held a 79-74 lead after three quarters and then missed their first six shots in the fourth.
Minnesota responded and went ahead 89-86 on a 3-pointer by Walker with 5:28 left. But the Timberwolves couldn’t hold on.
“That’s kind of the story of the season,” Walker said.
Iguodala hit a jumper to give Philadelphia a 96-93 lead with 1:24 remaining, but Jaric converted one of two free throws with exactly one minute left.
Minnesota had one last chance to tie the game after Iguodala was whistled for an offensive foul with 18.2 seconds left. But Dalembert blocked Jefferson’s shot on a drive with 5.9 seconds to go and Iguodala sealed the victory with two free throws.
“I knew he was going to shoot the hook,” Dalembert said of Jefferson. “I went straight for it and got the block.”
The Sixers led by 12 points in the first half and held a 51-41 advantage on a 3-pointer by Lou Williams with 47.9 seconds remaining in the first half. Minnesota scored the final four points and got within six at halftime, 51-45.
Green scored 12 points, Iguodala had 11 and Dalembert blocked four shots for Philadelphia.
Jefferson’s double-double was his 14th. … Minnesota F Craig Smith, who scored a career-high 36 points against Washington on Tuesday night, entered Wednesday’s game at Philadelphia fourth in the NBA in field goal percentage (59.6 percent) behind Andris Biedrins, Dwight Howard and Shaquille O’Neal. Smith was just 3-of-9 from the field and finished with eight points. … Sixers F Rodney Carney (flu) was inactive while G Lou Williams (toe) came off the bench in the first quarter. Williams missed Monday’s game against Houston. … The 76ers failed to score at least 100 points for the first time in five games. … Minnesota dropped to 0-15 when scoring under 100 points.