CLEVELAND--You say you need some good news about the 76ers? Something to help get you past the facts that they're just 9-13 and have lost 7 of their last 9 games? Something to help support you as you realize they're playing the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight in Quicken Loans Arena (heretofore known as ''The Q''), where they're 12-0, the only NBA team undefeated at home?
Well, we don't have any true bolts of lightning, but here's the best we can offer:
1) Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the franchise's career rebounding leader, is out, the result of a sprained left ankle suffered in the fourth quarter of Wednesday night's 101-93 victory over the Sixers in the Wachovia Center. Ilgauskas, averaging 14.8 points and 7.6 rebounds, was hurt when he stepped on the foot of the Sixers' Donyell Marshall.
2) The Cavs, 19-3 and holding a 10-game winning streak, were just 4-5 last season when Ilgauskas missed games. Still, the Cavs--always looking for motivation--can match the franchise's longest winning streak tonight, most recently accomplished (twice) in 1993-94.
3) With Ilgauskas out, the Cavs will be without two of their top seven players, including guard Daniel ''Boobie'' Gibson, who hasn't played since Dec. 9 because of a sprained left big toe. (Notice how we cleverly have avoided mentioning the Cavs' leading scorer. You know, the one Charles Barkley says shouldn't talk so much?)
4) The Sixers have won their last two games on the road.
5) Theoretically, things should lighten up tomorrow night, when the Sixers return to the Wachovia Center with an opportunity to end their 5-game home losing streak. The Sixers will be hosting the 4-16 Washington Wizards, who have lost 7 of 10, are 1-7 on the road and have already matched the 1966-67 Baltimore Bullets for the worst start in franchise history.
Feel better? A little refreshed?