A day after losing to the Atlanta Hawks on Dec. 3, the Philadelphia 76ers hired Ed Stefanski to replace Billy King as general manager and team president.
Stefanski can't like what he's seen from his team recently.
The 76ers, who went on a surge after bringing in Stefanski, look to break out of another rut as they meet the Hawks on Monday night.
Philadelphia (18-29) lost its first matchup with Atlanta (19-24) this season, 88-79 in early December to fall to 5-12 and prompt the front-office shakeup. After going 9-5 for the rest of December after Stefanski's hiring, Philadelphia has lost eight of its last 12 including a 108-106 defeat to Southeast Division-leading Orlando on Friday.
Philadelphia could have sent that game into overtime, but Samuel Dalembert had the ball stripped by Dwight Howard in the low post as the clock ran out.
"That's something we've got to work on in practice, getting the last shot up," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said.
Cheeks, in the final year of a three-year deal, is being watched closely by Stefanski. If Cheeks hopes to turn around the Philadelphia's season, he's going to need leading scorer Andre Iguodala lead the way.
But Iguodala's effort Friday didn't help. He had 11 points 4-for-13 from the field after averaging 25.0 points while shooting 57.7 percent (30-for-52) in his previous three games. The fourth-year swingman came close to matching his poor shooting game against the Hawks in December, when he had 11 points on 4-for-14 shooting from the floor.
Iguodala, averaging 2.2 steals per game, will likely be matched up with Atlanta's Josh Smith, who's having a career season, averaging 18.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 3.2 blocks a game.
Smith had 23 points, eight rebounds, five assists and five blocks as the Hawks snapped a three-game losing streak with a 104-92 win over New Jersey on Saturday. Marvin Williams led Atlanta with 24 points and Josh Childress added 23 to help overcome a subpar game from leading scorer Joe Johnson.
"That just shows the growth of our team," Smith said.
Johnson finished with 10 points, and is averaging 12.0 - more than eight below his season average - in his last three games.
"I don't think everything is designed for Joe Johnson," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "I've said this all along, that when Josh Smith, Marvin and Childress play at a level like they did tonight, we're going to have a great chance at winning games."
Atlanta, which had dropped seven of eight, outscored New Jersey 16-7 on fast-break points in the second half. The Hawks rank fourth in the league in fast-break points, averaging 16.9 per game.
"When we run, we're at our best," Smith said.
Philadelphia, meanwhile, has the third-ranked fast-break defense in the league, allowing 9.7 points per game.
The Sixers likely won't have to worry about picking up Shelden Williams in transition much. Williams, the fifth overall pick in the 2006 draft, had not played in two straight games and seven of Atlanta's last 12 due to a coach's decision.
Williams has regressed this season, averaging 2.7 points per game after posting 5.5 as a rookie in 2006-07.
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