Wizards-76ers Preview

The Associated Press

The Philadelphia 76ers' lengthy winning streak is over. Back-to-back games against the lowly Washington Wizards could help them start another one.

The 76ers go for their first 5-0 start in Philadelphia in nine seasons Friday night when this home-and-home set begins.

Seeking its first seven-game win streak since Jan. 6-17, 2009, Philadelphia (7-3) shot a season-worst 39.5 percent from the field in an 85-79 loss to New York on Wednesday.

It was the 76ers' third game as many nights, their first such stretch of a compressed season that was necessitated by the lockout.

"We're not going to blame the schedule or anything like that," said forward Elton Brand, who had 10 rebounds but shot 4 of 11 and scored 11 points. "Every team has a tough schedule this season and you have to give (the Knicks) credit. They outplayed us when it counted.''

The Atlantic Division leaders now return home where they have won their games by an average of 23.8 points. Philadelphia, which plays 14 of 17 at the Wells Fargo Center, last opened 5-0 at home during a 10-0 start in 2002-03.

The 76ers defeated Washington in the last two matchups last season - both in Philadelphia - after the Wizards extended their winning streak in this series to five with a pair of overtime home wins.

Before opening a five-game stretch in Washington on Saturday against Philadelphia, the Wizards (1-9) will try to snap an eight-game road losing streak. They have lost their five road contests this season by an average of 15.7 points.

They shot a season-worst 31.0 percent in a 78-64 loss at Chicago on Wednesday after making a season-high 48.8 percent from the field in a 93-78 victory over Toronto the day before.

John Wall shot 4 of 13 and finished with 11 points and eight assists against the Bulls. The second-year point guard has averaging 9.7 points while and has gone 10 of 35 from the field in the last three games.

"He's just right now in a bad rhythm," coach Flip Saunders said. "We've just got to watch some film, talk to him and try to get him to slow things down."

Wall had team highs of 23.3 points and 11.3 assists per game against the 76ers in 2010-11.

Wizards forward Andray Blatche was also a tough matchup for Philadelphia last season, averaging 18.3 points and 7.2 rebounds. Blatche, however, could miss a second straight game with a sore right shoulder.

Without Blatche, Washington was outrebounded 62-46 on Wednesday.

Philadelphia is among the league's best rebounding teams at 45.2 per game. The 76ers, though, might be without center Spencer Hawes for a second consecutive game with a lower back strain.

He is averaging 11.1 points, a team-high 9.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists.

"We really missed a guy like Spencer in a game tonight because he's our best passing guy and we like to play out of the post and do some of that stuff," coach Doug Collins said.

Brand led Philadelphia with 18.0 points and 7.0 rebounds a game versus Washington last season.

The 76ers, winners of six of seven at home in this series, also host the Wizards on Jan. 23.

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