NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, February 19th (All times eastern)
Philadelphia 76ers (20-11) at Minnesota Timberwolves (15-16), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Philadelphia 76ers have been struggling as of late and will try to rejuvenate their season tonight in the opener of a four-game road trip against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center.
The 76ers have lost two in a row and four of six games, including Friday's 82-75 setback versus the Dallas Mavericks in which they blew a comfortable 51-37 lead at halftime and were outscored, 24-8, in the third quarter.
Rookie Nikola Vucevic led the way with 16 points, while Thaddeus Young and Lou Williams scored 14 and 12 points, respectively, for Philadelphia, which still leads the Atlantic Division by four games ahead of Boston and five games in front of New York. Philadelphia has now dropped three straight at home for the first time since losing the final five home games of the 2009-10 campaign.
"That's a very, very good defensive team," said Sixers head coach Doug Collins about the Sixers' woes in the second half. "I thought we missed a lot of shots that we normally make. We couldn't get them to go. We just never could get anything offensively generated in the second half."
Sixers lone All-Star Andre Iguodala posted 10 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and four steals in a wasted effort. The 76ers will also visit the Grizzlies, Rockets and Pistons on the upcoming trek and are 7-5 as the guest.
Minnesota aims for its third win in a row and is coming off back-to-back wins over Charlotte and Houston.
In Friday's 111-98 triumph over the Rockets, Kevin Love had 33 points and 17 rebounds, Nikola Pekovic scored a career-high 30 points and Ricky Rubio added 18 points and nine assists for the Timberwolves, who have won two straight since a four-game losing streak.
"It was not easy," Pekovic said of his play. "It maybe looked easy, but it was very difficult. I am trying to play hard and even if I start missing you can not let it affect you. You can't do everything perfect, but if you play hard you know something good will come."
Pekovic's previous career high was 27 points against the Nets in early February. The Wolves have scored 100-plus points in consecutive games and will face a tough challenge in Philadelphia's defense. After hosting the Sixers, the Timberwolves, who are 8-10 at home and last in the Northwest Division, will play five of six games away from the Twin Cities. Wolves guard J.J. Barea (personal) missed Friday's game and is questionable.
Minnesota is just 2-10 when allowing the opposition to score 100 points and lost both meetings with Philadelphia a season ago. The Sixers have won three straight and four of the last five matchups in this series, and have scored 100 or more points in four straight meetings. However, Philadelphia has lost eight of 10 and 10 of its last 14 at Minnesota.
Love averaged 18.5 points and 18.0 rebounds in the home-and-home set against the 76ers a year ago, while Iguodala had averages of 18.5 points, 10.0 assists and 7.5 rebounds.
02/19 10:36:04 ET