While they still have plenty of work ahead, the surging Philadelphia 76ers have started to put it together.
The 76ers return home looking to extend their season-best winning streak to five Monday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Philadelphia (12-21) opened its longest road trip of the season with back-to-back losses before turning things around, pulling out wins on the last four stops while holding opponents to 38.7 percent shooting. The 76ers are also averaging 109.8 points during their run and allowing 102.3, significantly lower than their NBA-worst mark of 110.6.
"It's a team that's growing. I think it's a team that's slowly finding an identity in regards to defense," coach Brett Brown said. "We know we have a long ways to go, but ... I felt like we saw the light and we kept moving and I attribute this west coast trip to that solely."
Philadelphia concluded its trek with one of its most impressive wins to date, 101-99 over Portland on Saturday. Thaddeus Young led the way with 30 points, Evan Turner added 23 and the 76ers outscored the Trail Blazers 64-40 in the paint.
Coach Brown's team also held Portland to a season-low 36.4 percent shooting.
"It's a testament to the guys in here and kind of the resiliency effort going on after Christmas, being able to recharge the batteries, recharge the mind," center Spencer Hawes said. "Momentum is a crazy thing. Once you get it, you can't let it go. We have it right now, so we have to keep rolling."
Young is averaging 26.4 points over the last seven games, well above his season mark of 18.3. Turner, averaging a team-leading 19.8 points, has posted 23.0 per game during the winning streak.
The 76ers are 11-6 when Turner scores at least 22 compared to 1-14 when he doesn't.
The fourth-year forward didn't come close to reaching that mark in a 106-99 loss at Minnesota on Dec. 11. Turner managed 13 points on 6-of-16 shooting and committed a career-worst nine turnovers.
The Timberwolves have had the 76ers' number of late, taking the last four matchups while surrendering 91.3 points per game.
Minnesota (16-17) is hoping to get back to .500 after falling 115-111 to Oklahoma City on Saturday. Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Love combined for 61 points and 25 rebounds but the Timberwolves had no answer for Kevin Durant, who scored 48.
Minnesota made just 18 of 29 free throws, while the Thunder went 27 of 28. The Timberwolves are 5-14 when giving up more than 100 points.
"You lose a game like that, you learn from it," coach Rick Adelman told the team's official website. "It's a tough loss, but we got to get back to work and win the next one. Keep our heads up."
Minnesota could be in for another long night on the road, where they have dropped 10 of 14. Minnesota ranks 29th in the league with an opponent field-goal percentage of 48.4 away from home.
Philadelphia rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams is expected to be fine despite taking an elbow to the head in the closing seconds Saturday. Carter-Williams, who missed last month's game against Minnesota due to injury, leads all first-year players with 17.2 points, 7.2 assists, 5.7 rebounds and 2.9 steals per game.
Love, meanwhile, has scored 31.7 points and shot 54.1 percent over the last six contests. The All-Star forward, though, is averaging just 15.0 in eight career meetings with Philadelphia, his lowest mark against any team.
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