While the streaking Brooklyn Nets continue to show improvement under P.J. Carlesimo, the Philadelphia 76ers are happy to finally be home as they begin yet another set of back-to-back games.
The Nets look to make it four straight wins Tuesday night when they visit a 76ers team playing its first home game since Dec. 21.
Since firing Avery Johnson on Dec. 27, Brooklyn (19-15) has won five of six with Carlesimo as interim coach. Six Nets scored in double figures in a 113-93 rout of Sacramento on Saturday.
"We're getting our confidence as a group, we're getting our trust," said center Brook Lopez, who scored a team-high 18 points in 16 minutes.
Philadelphia (15-20) is beginning its fourth consecutive set of back-to-back games, but at least it will have enjoyed two days of rest before this one. The 76ers capped a 2-6 trip with three such sets of contests, and fell 109-85 at Oklahoma City on Friday and 109-86 to San Antonio the next night.
"The last two nights I think it kind of wore on us," said reserve center Spencer Hawes, who scored a season-high 22 points against the Spurs. "We're not here to make excuses but when you look at the standings, we don't have the best record right now, we're not playing the best but I think we have the opportunity to turn it around quickly and we're still right in the mix."
The Sixers are starting a stretch in which they'll play 13 of 15 at home, though they'll travel to Toronto on Wednesday. They remain optimistic despite poor results on a trip that began with a 95-92 loss to Brooklyn on Dec. 23 - Philadelphia's last game against an Eastern Conference foe.
"I have never experienced a road trip like this where it's three back-to-backs in a row and we played some of the best teams in the league and even before that we started off with Brooklyn," said leading scorer Jrue Holiday, averaging 14.0 points in his last three games after averaging 25.3 over his previous three. "It was tough, but as a team we grew from it."
Last month's victory over the 76ers was Johnson's final one as coach. Joe Johnson led Brooklyn with 22 points while Holiday paced Philadelphia with 24 and nine assists.
Another change from that contest for Brooklyn is the emergence of second-year guard MarShon Brooks, who was getting inconsistent minutes under Avery Johnson and did not play in the first matchup. Brooks has turned in his two highest-scoring efforts under Carlesimo - and highest of the season - after a 15-point performance Saturday.
"I'm not looking over my shoulder (now). I'm just going out there and having fun," Brooks said. "That's kind of the way I play."
Brooklyn is averaging 101.3 points under Carlesimo - 112.7 during the win streak - after averaging 94.5 in its first 28 games. The Nets are also enjoying a rebounding margin of plus-4.0 under their new coach after it was plus-1.2 previously.
Lopez has also responded positively to the coaching change, averaging 23.7 points and 59.8 percent shooting. Three of his five highest totals in free-throw attempts have come in the last six games.