The Philadelphia 76ers are off to another dismal start, but they hope Monday's matchup against the Atlanta Hawks will help spark a turnaround.
Philadelphia (5-11) won three of four meetings against the Hawks (6-9) last season, including both games at the Wachovia Center. The Sixers have won seven straight at home against Atlanta, and 15 of the last 19 meetings in Philadelphia since 1997-98.
After enduring losses in 19 of its first 24 games last season, Philadelphia is enduring another difficult start. The Sixers have played a bit better lately, alternating wins with losses in their last five games, including a frustrating 94-92 overtime defeat at New Jersey on Saturday.
Philadelphia led the Nets 51-35 at the half, but squandered that advantage in a third quarter during which it managed only 10 points.
"We couldn't score the ball," coach Maurice Cheeks said. "We just couldn't consistently score. I thought overall our defense was good, but it wasn't enough to keep us from going down."
Andre Iguodala scored 24 points while Andre Miller and Kyle Korver each added 14 for the Sixers, who will now begin a stretch where they will play six of their next seven games at home. Philadelphia has not fared markedly better at the Wachovia Center, though, compiling a 3-5 record there in 2007-08.
The Hawks, meanwhile, appeared to be improving with consecutive road wins following a 3-7 start. They proceeded to lose two of three games last week, though, culminating with a 92-86 defeat at home to the New Orleans Hornets on Friday.
Marvin Williams had 18 points and Joe Johnson added 17 points with nine assists for the Hawks, who committed 19 turnovers leading to 22 points for New Orleans.
Johnson committed six turnovers and Josh Smith had five giveaways, increasing his team-high total to 48.
"I'm very puzzled," said Hawks coach Mike Woodson. "In the third quarter we were very lethargic.
"In the second half we got too selfish and stingy. Everybody was trying to do it individually."
Despite the outcome, the Hawks had another solid defensive game. They have held opponents to an average of 87.2 points over their last six games. Their offense has failed to capitalize, though, faring even worse with an 86.5 average.
"I don't think we did the best job of executing on offense," Williams said. "Our defense did pretty well. We held them to 90-something points I think, which is certainly good."
Johnson shot just 5-for-20 from the field on Friday, when his scoring output was his worst since a season-low 14-point effort Nov. 17 in a 105-96 loss at Milwaukee. The 6-foot-7 guard was injured for the final two meetings between these clubs last season - a win and a loss for the Hawks.
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