for this game

Sixers return home following successful road trip

Mar 24, 2009 - 6:22 PM By Dan Pieringer Stats Writer

Minnesota (20-51) at Philadelphia (36-33), 7 p.m. EDT

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The Philadelphia 76ers are thrilled they were able to post a winning record on a challenging western road trip. Returning home to face the woeful Minnesota Timberwolves should be a nice change of pace.

The Sixers look to build on a strong finish to their trip with their seventh win in nine games Wednesday night when they host the Timberwolves, losers of five straight.

Philadelphia (36-33) won three of five games against teams from the Western Conference on their trip, including a victory over the conference-best Los Angeles Lakers on Andre Iguodala's buzzer-beating 3-pointer in the opener.

Though the Sixers followed that game with consecutive losses, they finished the trip by dominating Sacramento on Sunday night and outlasting Portland 114-108 in overtime Monday night.

Andre Miller scored 27 points against the Trail Blazers, and Iguodala and Thaddeus Young added 25 apiece as the Sixers shot better than 50.0 percent from the field for the third time during the trip. Portland entered the game with a 28-6 record at the Rose Garden.

"I think this shows the growth of our team to go into Los Angeles and beat the Lakers, then come here where they have a great home record and win in overtime," coach Tony DiLeo said.

DiLeo, who took over after the team fired Maurice Cheeks on Dec. 13, said close games like Monday's were contests the Sixers often lost earlier in the season.

"We're doing a better job of finishing out the games," he said.

Much of the improvement has been on the defensive end. Over the last 10 days, the Sixers have held Miami's Dwyane Wade to 18 points and 8-for-21 shooting, the Lakers' Kobe Bryant to 11 points and 5-for-15 shooting and the Blazers' Brandon Roy to 12 points and 5-for-18 shooting.

"We've had to guard a lot of guys lately. We had Kobe and Dwyane Wade back-to-back," Iguodala said. "What we tried to do is not try to stop a guy, you just try to make them work."

With Timberwolves center Al Jefferson sidelined for the rest of the season with a knee injury, the Sixers don't have to worry about Minnesota's top offensive option Wednesday.

The Timberwolves (20-51) have gone into a free fall without their leading scorer and rebounder. They fell 109-97 at Atlanta on Monday night for their fifth straight loss and 18th in 21 games since Jefferson's last contest Feb. 8.

"We are running on empty right now," coach Kevin McHale said. "The young guys get fatigued and they're more apt to give into that during games. This is your job and you can't get fatigued. You have to go out there and give it your all each game."

This is only the second career game in Philadelphia for Timberwolves guard Randy Foye, a star at nearby Villanova University before he was drafted seventh overall in 2006.

Foye, averaging 16.4 points this season, scored eight off the bench in his first game at Wachovia Center as a rookie. He led Minnesota with 19 against the Hawks on Monday after getting held to an average of 9.2 points and 34.0 percent shooting over his previous five games.

Foye was one of five Minnesota players, including Jefferson, to score in double figures in the Timberwolves' 102-96 home win over the Sixers on Nov. 19. Miller led Philadelphia with 20 points and Iguodala added 17 but went 6-for-15 from the field.