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News » 76ers-Thunder Preview

76ers-Thunder Preview

76ers-Thunder Preview
Struggling since the All-Star break, the Philadelphia 76ers took advantage of a last-place team to get back in the win column. They hope a meeting with another team at the bottom of its division yields similar results.

The Sixers continue their fight for playoff position in the Eastern Conference on Sunday night when they visit the Oklahoma City Thunder, who could again be without their top two scorers.

Philadelphia (30-30) dropped six of its first eight games after the All-Star break, in the process giving up significant ground in the tightly-packed East playoff race.

Now in seventh place, the Sixers hope Saturday night's 110-105 win at Memphis can help them get back on track. Andre Iguodala had 24 points to lead six players in double figures for Philadelphia, which finished the game on a 21-12 run.

"We came up with some big plays down the stretch," coach Tony DiLeo said. "We hit some big 3-pointers, and our defense was pretty good. We are happy with the win."

The Sixers say they benefited from several days of practice, the result of four days off since their previous game Monday night.

"It made a huge difference for us," said Louis Williams, who scored 18 points off the bench. "Not so much to get our legs back, but for us to get back to the drawing board and get some things corrected and get some things understood."

The Sixers will likely have an easier time building on Saturday's victory if the Thunder (16-46) are forced to play without Kevin Durant and Jeff Green again.

Durant, fourth in the NBA with 26.0 points per game, has missed four straight contests with a sprained right ankle and doesn't expect to return for about another week. Green, second on the team with 17.2 points and first with 7.0 rebounds per game, is day-to-day with a back injury that's kept him out of the last three games.

Without either player, Oklahoma City had its season-high three-game winning streak snapped Saturday night with a 108-90 loss at New Orleans.

Rookie point guard Russell Westbrook helped keep the Thunder close with 24 points and seven rebounds, but the Hornets pulled away in the fourth quarter, outscoring Oklahoma City 32-18.

"I knew going into this game that we were going to have to play pretty flawless basketball for 48 minutes," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "We played good for three quarters, but in the fourth quarter they made some big shots, we turned it over a few times. But I was proud of our guys' effort."

The Thunder also ran out of steam Nov. 15 in their first meeting with the Sixers. They were within four points at halftime before getting outscored 64-43 the rest of the way en route to a 110-85 road defeat.

Green led Oklahoma City with 21 points while shooting 10-for-15 in that game, but the rest of the team shot just 33.8 percent.

Sixers forward Thaddeus Young had 23 points and shot 10-for-15 from the field in Philadelphia's fifth straight win over the Oklahoma City franchise.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: March 8, 2009


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