The Philadelphia 76ers got back on track earlier this week with a victory over the New Jersey Nets and now could continue their playoff push with another one.
Philadelphia goes for a third consecutive victory, which would match its longest winning streak of the past two months, as it hosts New Jersey on Friday night.
Having lost four straight to drop into a tie with New York for seventh place in the Eastern Conference, the 76ers ended New Jersey's season-high three-game home winning streak Tuesday with a 107-88 victory.
Philadelphia's 62 bench points in that contest included 20 from Lou Williams and 19 apiece from Thaddeus Young and center Spencer Hawes, who was a reserve for the first time this season.
"This was a team that was a desperate team," Nets coach Avery Johnson said after his team was eliminated from playoff contention for a fifth straight season. "They are in a major playoff fight."
The 76ers (31-27) are one game ahead of the Knicks and three in front of ninth-place Milwaukee. Philadelphia has lost the season series to New York and its series against the Bucks will be decided April 25 in Milwaukee.
"We're fighting for our playoff lives," forward Elton Brand said.
If the 76ers are going to win that fight, they'll likely have to get the job done on the road, where they'll play six of their final eight games. Before visiting Orlando on Monday and closing its home schedule Tuesday against Indiana, Philadelphia is looking to build momentum from its 2-1 trip.
"The world was falling on us when we lost four in a row," Brand said Wednesday after a 93-75 victory over Toronto. "Now we win two, we're right back to feeling good about ourselves."
The 76ers have blown the Atlantic Division lead by going 13-20 since Feb. 7. The only time they won more than two straight in that span was a three-game run March 7-11.
They have a chance to match that streak Friday as they go for a 10th win in 11 meetings with the Nets (21-38). New Jersey had dropped eight in a row in this series and four straight at Philadelphia before winning 97-90 in overtime in its last visit Jan. 25.
Deron Williams had 34 points and 11 assists in that contest but was held to 14 and five, respectively, on Tuesday against the Sixers. The Nets have been idle since that game.
"We want to play the spoiler," Williams said. "It didn't happen today, but we still have them two more times."
The Nets, who host the 76ers on April 23, might not have Gerald Wallace (strained left hamstring) for a second consecutive game, but Kris Humphries could cause plenty of problems for the 76ers' front line.
Humphries is averaging 16.5 points and 14.5 rebounds versus Philadelphia in 2011-12 after scoring 20 with 10 boards Tuesday for his fifth double-double in six games.
Hawes (Achilles) and new starting center Nikola Vucevic (knee) did not play the last time the Nets were in town.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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