Clinging to one of the last playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, the Philadelphia 76ers are desperately trying to string together some victories.
They look to win consecutive games for the first time in a month when they visit the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night.
Philadelphia (30-27) earned its first April win and snapped a four-game losing streak Tuesday with a 107-88 victory at New Jersey. Lou Williams had 20 points while fellow reserves Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes each scored 19 as the 76ers also ended a four-game road skid, officially eliminating the Nets from the playoff race.
The 76ers, 5-10 since a three-game winning streak March 7-11, are in the mix with New York and Milwaukee for the final two playoff spots in the East. Though Philadelphia is currently in seventh place, it has not recently resembled the club that led the Atlantic Division for a good portion of the season.
With a visit to Toronto (20-38) and another date with the Nets this week, the 76ers have a good opportunity to regain some momentum.
Williams, Young and Hawes, who each grabbed eight boards Tuesday to help the 76ers outrebound New Jersey 53-36, paced a Philadelphia bench that scored a season-high 62 points. It marked the first time in Hawes’ 28 games this season that the 7-foot-1 center came off the bench.
“(Coach Doug Collins) told me before shootaround and obviously I wasn’t happy,” Hawes said about not starting. “I think anybody playing the game, you get news like that and you’re not happy. There are two ways to go. You can sit there and sulk about it, or be a man, swallow it and then try to make the most of it.”
Hawes, who totaled nine points in the previous two games, could be in the same role Wednesday as the 76ers try to win their second straight at Toronto.
The teams split the first two meetings this season, both in Philadelphia. After the 76ers held the Raptors to season lows for field-goal percentage (31.8) and points in a 97-62 win Jan. 7, Toronto snapped a three-game skid in the series with a 99-78 victory last Wednesday. Andrea Bargnani scored 24 points as the Raptors shot 50.6 percent overall and outscored Philadelphia 20-7 in the fourth quarter.
“It was just an excellent team effort. Guys stayed together,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said.
Bargnani has totaled 45 points and 16 rebounds versus Philadelphia this season, but he could miss a second straight game with calf tightness.
Toronto has averaged 84.3 points while losing three straight since beating the 76ers, but it nearly erased a 15-point deficit while scoring 36 points in the fourth quarter of Monday’s 103-98 defeat at Indiana.
“I appreciate the guys’ effort,” Casey said. “The fight was there. It wasn’t pretty and again, all we can do is ask for that type of effort.”
Linas Kleiza had a team-high 18 points off the bench as the Raptors fell short despite shooting 48.0 percent.
DeMar DeRozan was held to 10 points at Indiana, but finished with 18 at Philadelphia last week. He had 29 points in the Raptors’ 107-94 loss in the teams’ most recent meeting in Toronto on Jan. 26, 2011.