A season that began with so much promise for the Philadelphia 76ers has fallen to its lowest point during their latest losing streak.
While Andrew Bynum doesn’t appear ready to provide a lift anytime soon, a home date against the free-falling Orlando Magic may help the 76ers get back into the win column.
The Magic will try to snap a 10-game road losing streak – their longest such skid in seven years – on Tuesday night when they visit Philadelphia in a meeting between teams with five-game losing streaks.
At 10-6 heading into December and hopeful that Bynum would return soon, the 76ers were feeling optimistic. Bynum, however, has yet to play for Philadelphia because of discomfort in both knees, and while he’s practiced with the team recently, the 7-footer is still without a timetable for his return.
In the meantime, the 76ers (22-32) fell to a season-worst 10-games under .500 with a 99-93 loss at New York on Sunday. Philadelphia also dropped four games behind Milwaukee for eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
“We’ll stretch some pieces of the game together, but we have not been able to play a complete game,” coach Doug Collins said.
Collins’ club should have its best chance in a while of putting together a complete effort Tuesday. The 76ers held short-handed Orlando to season lows in points and field-goal percentage (33.8) in a 78-61 victory on Feb. 4.
The Magic (15-41) have lost 28 of their last 31 following a 118-94 defeat to Cleveland on Saturday. They’re mired in their longest road slide since dropping a franchise-worst 16 in a row in Jan. 27-March 21, 2006.
“We’re trying to play the best that we can and that’s what you want to do,” coach Jacque Vaughn said. “Each time you step on the floor you do your job.”
E’Twaun Moore led the way with 18 points as the Magic were without injured starters Glen Davis, Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo in the first meeting with Philadelphia. Orlando will be undermanned again, with only Afflalo – the team’s leading scorer (16.8 points per game) – expected to play this time around.
Rookie Maurice Harkless may help pick up the slack, having scored 17.3 per game on 51.1 percent shooting in his last three.
The Magic, though, have averaged 88.0 points and shot 25.0 percent from 3-point range during their skid. They made just 1 of 12 from beyond the arc in the first meeting with the 76ers.
Philadelphia has experienced its own struggles on the offensive end, averaging 85.8 points – 6.4 below its season average – over its last eight games.
With points hard to come by, the 76ers hope Jrue Holiday can continue his latest hot stretch after he’s scored 51 on 20-of-35 shooting in his last two games.
Evan Turner has averaged 18.5 points but shot 40.3 percent in his last four contests, while Spencer Hawes – who’s shooting 34.8 percent during the team’s skid – had one of his best performances with 21 and a season-high 14 rebounds against the Magic.
Philadelphia’s win earlier this month was only its third in the last 16 meetings, including the first round of the 2009 playoffs.