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76ers Focus on Snapping Losing Streak, Host Blazers
Posted Dec 11 2006 10:01AM
NBA.com Daily Confidential
As the Philadelphia 76ers wait for a resolution to the saga surrounding Allen Iverson, they need to focus on avoiding their longest losing streak in nearly a decade.
Entering its third game without its star point guard and leading scorer, Philadelphia tries to snap its seven-game losing skid Monday against the struggling Portland Trail Blazers.
Chris Webber had 19 points, 11 rebounds and a season-high eight assists, but the 76ers (5-14) came up short in an 86-84 loss at Orlando on Saturday.
``We played winning basketball,'' Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said. ``It's unfortunate we lost that game.''
The Sixers have not dropped eight in a row since April 2-14, 1997, when they finished 22-60 in Iverson's rookie season.
Saturday's loss was Philadelphia's second since Iverson asked to be traded. The team had been struggling even with Iverson, winning its first three games of the season before getting only two victories in the following 16 contests.
Without Iverson, the offensive focus has shifted to Webber. The 14-year veteran had a season-high 21 points, 10 boards and five assists in Friday's 113-98 loss to Washington.
``Allen's a great basketball player. I love playing with him, but when he is not in the game things have to change because you don't have a guy who can come in and score 30 points,'' 76ers forward Kyle Korver said. ``We are going to go through Chris more and get the ball into the low post and at the elbow. I thought we did a good job of that in parts of tonight's game.''
Webber, who is fourth on the team with 11.7 points per game, is trying to get his teammates involved in the scoring - something Iverson was criticized for failing to do.
``That is just how I play,'' Webber said. ``I am not trying to say that in a cocky way, but everybody has their own style of play. I just wanted to get our players involved and it kind of makes the basket bigger when you are getting easy lay ups. It is a fun style of play.''
Two teammates immediately benefited from Webber's generosity, as Andre Iguodala had 19 points Saturday after Korver scored 20 Friday.
The Trail Blazers (8-14) avoided a three-game slide with a 93-83 win at Toronto on Sunday, as Jarrett Jack had 22 points with a career-high nine rebounds and eight assists.
Jack's performance and the win came without the Portland's leading scorer Zach Randolph, who was suspended for one game after making an obscene gesture toward Indiana fans in a 108-95 loss to the Pacers on Friday.
``I talked to him about leadership,'' Blazers coach Nate McMillan said of Jack. ``With Zach not being here today we really needed him to take control and take over as a leader. He was the guy who set the tone for us from the start.''
Randolph, who is averaging 25.9 points, will be back in the lineup to face the Sixers, against whom he scored 52 total points in two games last season.
His return should spark the Blazers as they try to win consecutive games for only the second time this season. Portland won a pair of games from Nov. 8-10, but has gone 4-12 since.
The teams have split their two series meetings in each of the last three seasons.
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