By: Jim Eichenhofer,, @Jim_Eichenhofer
January 3, 2011

Two teams that completed a four-player September trade meet for the second and final time during the 2010-11 regular season. Philadelphia struck first in the season series, handing New Orleans an 88-70 defeat in Pennsylvania on Dec. 12.

The Hornets added much-needed depth to their bench on Sept. 23, when they acquired guard Willie Green and forward/center Jason Smith from the 76ers, in exchange for veteran frontcourt player Darius Songaila and 2010 first-round draft pick Craig Brackins.

Over the first two months of the season, Green emerged as New Orleans most consistent reserve, providing several key late-game plays in victories amid an 8-0 start. The eighth-year pro who had spent his entire NBA career in Philadelphia before coming to NOLA also has been an important component of the Hornets improved defensive play. Meanwhile, third-year NBA veteran Smith is averaging career-bests in multiple categories. Smith is the only Hornets reserve big man who has been in the rotation on an every-game basis, often spelling Emeka Okafor or David West.

On the 76ers side of the Sept. 23 trade, Songaila and Brackins have both been used sparingly. Songaila appeared in just four of Philadelphias first 27 games this season, logging a total of 27 minutes. Brackins made his official NBA debut on Nov. 24 at Toronto, scoring six points in 10 minutes of action, but through mid-December, that remained the only game hed played in so far.

Under new head coach Doug Collins who has previously led teams in Chicago, Detroit and Washington Philadelphia began 2010-11 in ominous fashion. The 76ers dropped to 3-13 with a loss the day after Thanksgiving. However, the 76ers reeled off eight victories in their next 11 games, including the 18-point victory over the Hornets. As a result, Philadelphia surged back into the hunt for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.


Power forward, David West vs. Elton Brand
If the Hornets are to end their three-game losing streak in head-to-head games against the 76ers, theyll likely need a strong game Monday from their two-time All-Star. Like many of his Hornets teammates, West hasnt shot the ball well vs. Philadelphia in recent games, including going 2-for-10 from the field in the Dec. 12 loss. Brand tallied 15 points and 13 rebounds.

A closer look at the Philadelphia 76ers:

Evan Turner

Thaddeus Young

Evan Turner arrived in Philadelphia last summer amid considerable fanfare, after being selected with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. Turner was the premier player in college basketball with Ohio State in 2009-10, winning the John Wooden Award after leading the Buckeyes to a Big Ten championship. The 6-foot-7 rookie has had an up-and-down NBA debut, with his role and playing time fluctuating greatly over the first two months of the season. For instance, Turner played 43 minutes in a Nov. 17 loss to Toronto, but just six minutes Dec. 9 vs. Boston.

Described as the NBAs most underrated player by former teammate and current Hornets player Jason Smith, second-year point guard Jrue Holiday is a slick ballhandler and penetrator. The 20-year-old played just one year in college at UCLA, often paired in the same backcourt with former Hornets guard Darren Collison during the latters senior year.

After a very rough start to 2010-11, Philadelphias season began to head in the right direction around the time shooting guard Jodie Meeks was elevated into a prominent role. The second-year pro was a non-factor early and did not make his season debut until Nov. 7, but has provided a much-needed perimeter threat since then. Meeks breakout game came Dec. 4, when he connected on seven three-pointers, part of a 26-point game in a blowout win over the Bobcats. In college, Meeks broke Kentuckys single-game scoring record by tallying 54 points vs. Tennessee in an SEC game.

Lou Williams came off the bench in every Sixers game this season through mid-December, yet was their fourth-leading scorer. The quick and offensive-minded Williams led Philadelphia in scoring during its 88-70 victory over New Orleans earlier this season, netting 17 points.

Mondays game is a return home of sorts for New Orleans-born Thaddeus Young, a fourth-year pro who starred in college during one season at Georgia Tech. The athletic left-hander spent his high school years in Memphis, but has family members whove been Hornets season ticket holders. Young was selected 12th overall by Philadelphia in the 2007 NBA Draft, one spot before New Orleans chose Julian Wright (in the first round of that same 07 draft, the 76ers acquired Jason Smith, whom theyd trade three years later to the Hornets). Young, who excels at running the floor and finishing on fast breaks, has had several solid games against the Hornets, including averaging 15.5 points and shooting 67 percent from the field vs. NOLA last season.

The Hornets have had considerable problems matching up against Andre Iguodala, one factor in the 76ers head-to-head success. At 6-foot-6, 207 pounds, the athletic Iguodala is one of the NBAs most frequent producers of highlight-film dunks. Hes also shown improvement in his perimeter shot early in 2010-11, which was on display Dec. 12 when he went 3-for-4 from three-point range vs. New Orleans.

Philadelphia signed former No. 1 overall NBA draft pick Elton Brand to a significant free-agent contract in the 2008 offseason, with the hopes that the 6-foot-9 power forward would revitalize the franchise. Unfortunately for the Duke product, injuries severely curtailed his first season with Philly; last season his role shifted between starter and reserve. Early in 2010-11, Brand has put together his best stretch as a 76er, averaging close to a double-double in points and rebounds.

Argentina native Andres Nocioni is a hard-nosed small forward whos never been afraid to mix it up for rebounds and loose balls. The former Chicago and Sacramento role player is also a willing three-point shooter, taking about half of his attempts from long distance.

New Orleans NBA fans may remember Jason Kapono as the winner of the 2008 three-point shootout at All-Star weekend that February. It was Kaponos second straight championship in the event. The UCLA product was acquired by Philadelphia in the 2009 offseason to add his trademark shooting ability, but the Sixers have used him only in limited doses. Kapono appeared just once in Phillys first dozen December games.

Another player whose name should be somewhat familiar locally, Darius Songaila spent the 2009-10 season with the Hornets, often backing up Emeka Okafor at center. The eighth-year pro has played less this season than at any point in his career, by a wide margin.

Craig Brackins was a member of the Hornets for roughly three months this summer, prior to a September trade that included Brackins and Songaila. The Iowa State product showed an affinity for perimeter shooting during a handful of summer-league appearances with New Orleans.

Fourth-year pro Spencer Hawes is a former Sacramento lottery pick who was traded by the Kings to the 76ers in 2010. Prior to being selected in the 2007 NBA Draft, Hawes played one season in college at the University of Washington, where he was a teammate of then-Huskies freshman Quincy Pondexter. Hawes is actually a month younger than Pondexter, but has three more years of NBA experience, because Pondexter stayed in school for the duration of his eligibility.

Marreese Speights is a rugged 6-foot-10, 255-pounder whose selection by Philadelphia in the 2008 draft cut into then-Sixers reserve Jason Smiths minutes last season. Speights possesses surprising shooting range for a player of his size.

Tony Battie is a 13-year veteran whose playing time has gradually diminished in recent seasons. Battie has started over half of his 700-plus career games, but hasnt been an every-game first-stringer since 2006-07.

Players the 76ers want shooting free throws in a close game
Name Career FT percentage (through Dec. 20)
Songaila (84.6), Kapono (83.6) also stellar but dont play much.
Andres Nocioni 80.1
Not afraid to barrel through the lane to get to hoop.
Adept with either hand on layups around the rim.
If the 76ers need a three-pointer, three of their best options are
Name Career 3-PT% (through Dec. 20)
Jason Kapono 43.9
Two-time winner of NBA three-point shootout event.
Andres Nocioni 37.6
Totaled six treys vs. Hornets last season in three games.
Jrue Holiday 37.4
Meeks (35.4) also frequently fires from beyond arc.

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