A favorable part of the schedule may be playing a role, but the Philadelphia 76ers are enjoying their best stretch of the season.
The 76ers look to extend a season-high three-game win streak Wednesday night when they host the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves.
Philadelphia (8-13) lost 13 of its first 18 games before sweeping the struggling New York Knicks in a home-and-home series on Friday and Saturday. The 76ers, who hadn't won back-to-back games this season before beating the Knicks, extended their win streak with a 100-88 victory over road-weary Houston on Monday.
Willie Green scored 20 points, Andre Miller had 17 and 12 assists and Andre Iguodala added 16 points for Philadelphia, which needs only a victory over league-worst Minnesota (3-16) for a four-game win streak.
"We've got to keep this up. We can't lay down,'' Iguodala said.
Because of their recent success, the 76ers have had to learn how to play with a lead - something they had little experience with early this season. They allowed the Rockets to score 15 of the first 17 points in the fourth quarter to make the game seem closer than it really was.
"We have to learn how to play with that type of lead,'' coach Maurice Cheeks said. "I hope we have a lot of them."
Cheeks said he planned to stick with his new game plan of expanding beyond an eight-man rotation, an idea that blossomed shortly after new general manager Ed Stefanski was hired on Dec. 4.
Rookies Thaddeus Young and Jason Smith have benefited from the team's new system, with both seeing more playing time. Young has totaled 22 points and nine rebounds in his last three games, and Smith has 18 points and 20 rebounds during that span.
Iguodala still leads Philadelphia with 17.8 points per game, but he has received plenty of support lately from Green and Kyle Korver.
Green is averaging 17.3 points on 23-of-39 shooting the last three games. Korver, meanwhile, has averaged 12.3 points while shooting 8 for 11 from 3-point range in those contests.
Minnesota's road woes continued Tuesday with a 102-88 loss at Washington despite a career-high 36 points from second-year forward Craig Smith.
"Ever since they put me in the position to start, I just come out and try to be aggressive,'' said Smith, whose previous career high was 26.
Al Jefferson was the Timberwolves' second-leading scorer with only 14 points - an 18-point decrease from his total in a stunning 100-93 win over Phoenix on Saturday.
The Timberwolves dropped to 1-8 on the road with their fourth straight loss away from home. They were trying to win consecutive games for the first time this season.
Coach Randy Wittman returned Tuesday after missing three games because of back surgery.
"It is 100 percent better,'' Wittman said. "It is something that had to be done. It was awful.''
The Wolves won both meetings with the 76ers last season, including a 95-84 victory at Philadelphia on Dec. 3, 2006.
Copyright 2007 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited