The Philadelphia 76ers are one of the biggest surprises of the young season, though they’re quickly showing they have every intention of being in a similar position come season’s end.
Seeking a sixth consecutive victory for the first time in nearly three years, Philadelphia hosts the struggling Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night.
The 76ers (6-2) continued their best start since winning 10 straight to open the 2000-01 season with a 96-86 victory over Indiana on Monday. Andre Iguodala bounced back from some recently lackluster performances to score a game-high 20 points.
Iguodala shot 6 for 26 with 25 points over his previous three games combined.
“As long as we continue to keep our mistakes low and be defensively sound, we’ll be fine,” Iguodala said.
Coach Doug Collins praised Iguodala for his solid effort.
“(Iguodala) played his best all-around game,” Collins said. “He was great defensively and I thought he hit some huge shots.”
Collins guided Philadelphia to the playoffs in his first season before falling to Miami in five games, and he said his team has raised the bar to start 2011-12.
“I think last year we were growing up, trying to learn how to win games,” Collins said. “Our execution is better. You have to grow up in this league and learn how to make those plays.”
Monday marked the beginning of the 76ers’ stretch of three games in three nights - which ends with Wednesday’s visit to New York - and they’ll be looking to win six in a row for the first time since a seven-game run from Jan. 6-17, 2009.
Philadelphia had won six straight meetings with Sacramento until the Kings’ 114-111 overtime victory March 27, when Marcus Thornton scored a game-high 32 points.
Thornton, though, shot only 5 for 16 and scored 13 points in Sunday’s 104-97 loss to Orlando, dropping the Kings (3-6) to 1-1 under new coach Keith Smart, who beat Milwaukee 103-100 in his debut Thursday after replacing the fired Paul Westphal.
Sacramento, which has lost three of four, fell despite shooting a season-high 52.1 percent and holding Orlando to 42.5 percent from the field. However, the Kings committed 17 turnovers to 10 for the Magic.
“We’ve just got to get better with late-game situations,” said Cousins, who had only four points and four rebounds in the second half. “It’s not something we can get overnight, but we have to continue to get better. We are taking steps forward.”
It won’t get any easier as Sacramento plays its next five and eight of its next nine games on the road. The Kings have lost all three of their games away from home by an average of 22.0 points.
They will look to avoid losing their first four road games for the first time since 2008 when they face Philadelphia, where they have dropped four of the last six meetings.