Next goal for the Sixers: Win 3 straight

Next goal for the Sixers: Win 3 straight

February 4, 2013, 9:30 am
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Having gained some momentum by winning consecutive games for the first time in two months, the Sixers should build on it tonight when they host the 14-33 Orlando Magic, who have lost nine straight and sit in 12th place in the Eastern Conference.

The Sixers are in ninth, 3½ games behind eighth-place Boston. The Celtics on Sunday won their fourth straight, 106-104 over the Clippers, against whom the Sixers complete this eight-game homestand next Monday.

“I think we have kept a positive outlook through the whole stretch, or lowlights of the season,” Spencer Hawes said. “I think we are in a good place now and finally got ourselves some momentum.”

The Sixers last won three straight from Nov. 25-30, beating Phoenix, Dallas and Charlotte, which returns to the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday. That streak was the Sixers’ third three-game win streak in their first 16 games. They then went 29 games without stringing two together.

They’re 3-1 on their current home stand. In this stretch they are averaging 94.5 points and holding opponents to just 86.8. The improved play has coincided with Hawes and Nick Young joining the starting lineup.

“We are going in there with energy,” Nick Young said. “We are trying our best and we are improving. I like the way we are playing. We are playing with a chip on our shoulder.”

Young during the homestand is averaging 17.8 points and shooting 43 percent, including a combined 9-for-22 from beyond the arc.

“As many problems as we have had moving the ball at the end of the game, at least at the start now we are getting better ball movement and guys are playing unselfishly,” Hawes said. “And on defense we have been able to clamp down. It is easier for us to score in transition than when we are going against a set defense.”

Meanwhile, the Sixers are still trying to overcome a decline in transition points and bench scoring, a differential caused by personnel changes and injuries.

“One of our strengths was having Thad [Young] and Lou [Williams] out there, and we knew the production we were going to get every night and now different [players] are asked to come in and provide a punch,” Hawes said. “I think with all the new faces it is still something we are figuring out.”

Hawes refers to the Sixers’ 20-26 record as a rut, but he recalled his first season in Philadelphia and remembered a similar situation.

“We were 3-13 and I don’t think we were playing as poorly as our record said,” Hawes said. “It was at the end of games that we would beat ourselves. But to have the experience over the last two years that we have – going through playoff series where we had to battle it out down the stretch – I think gives us confidence now of what we want to do and who we want to have the ball.”

Jrue Holiday is usually that guy, but teams have tried to trap him or make him make a play for someone else. Holiday continues to lead the Sixers in scoring and assists, with 19.4 and 8.9, respectively. Holiday does have 19 turnovers over his last four games, including eight in the Sixers’ win over Sacramento Friday night.

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