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Posted Dec 5 2006 5:40PM
The Chicago Bulls and the Philadelphia 76ers are heading in different directions than they were when they last met.
The Bulls (8-9) look to win their sixth straight when they take on the last team to beat them, the slumping 76ers (5-11), on Wednesday night.
Chicago has been playing strong on both ends of the court since falling 123-108 to Philadelphia on Nov. 24.
The Bulls gave up their highest point total of the season in that contest, and Allen Iverson shredded Chicago's defense for a season-high 46 points.
Since that loss, Chicago has completely turned it around. The Bulls have won five in a row and haven't really been challenged during the streak, winning by an average of 13.4 points. They are outrebounding opponents by 7.7 per game over the last four contests.
While the Bulls haven't lost since falling the 76ers, Philadelphia hasn't won since that meeting.
The Sixers have dropped four straight, and 11 of 13 since starting the season 3-0 for the first time since the 2000-01 season.
Philadelphia, which lost to Minnesota 95-84 on Sunday, hasn't dropped five in a row since a six-game skid from Nov. 27-Dec. 8, 2004.
``I don't have any answers for what's going on,'' said Iverson, who had team highs of 26 points and seven assists Sunday. ``We're not having no fun out there on the basketball court. That has a lot to do with losing.''
Iverson is averaging 34.8 points during the skid, but Philadelphia has struggled defensively. The Sixers are allowing 104.5 points and 51.4 percent shooting in the last four games.
Iverson is averaging 37.3 points in his last four games against the Bulls.
Chicago beat Boston 100-82 on Monday, leading by as many as 30 in the third quarter.
``In the last couple of games, we have started to look like ourselves and move the ball around the floor,'' Bulls coach Scott Skiles said.
Chicago will be looking to complete the long climb back to the .500 mark, as it lost six in a row just before the current win streak. The Bulls were 3-3 on Nov. 11, but dropped the first six games of a season-high seven-game road trip.
``We are still under .500,'' guard Chris Duhon said. ``We still have a lot of work to do; we still have a lot of improvement to do, as well. We are happy with the way we are playing, but definitely not satisfied.''
After playing 11 of its first 15 on the road, Chicago is now taking advantage of a long stretch at home.
Monday's win was the second game of a season-high eight-game homestand. The Bulls are in the midst of a stretch in which they play 22 of 30 games at the United Center, where they're 5-1.
Andres Nocioni scored a team-high 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting against the Celtics as he continued to spark Chicago on the offensive end.
Nocioni had a career-high 31 points in Friday's win over New Orleans, and is averaging 25.0 points on 60.4 percent shooting, including 11-of-20 from 3-point range, in three games in December.
He had 24 points on 7-of-12 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds in the first meeting with the 76ers.
Luol Deng leads the Bulls with an 18.1-points-per-game average. He scored 28 on 11-of-15 shooting against Philadelphia on Nov. 24.
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