Some regular-season games seem to carry a bigger aura, which will be the case tonight when the 76ers host the Los Angeles Lakers at the Wachovia Center.
It's always a big attraction when Lower Merion's
comes home. Last season, the Sixers had their only home sellout for the Lakers, drawing 20,577 in a 108-92 win on March 9.
A team official said 16,500 tickets had been sold as of late yesterday afternoon. That was already the second-highest total this season, eclipsed only by the home opener, against the New Jersey Nets, which attracted 19,706.
In addition, Bryant could achieve a milestone in his backyard. He is 39 points shy of 20,000 for his career, although he continues to be hampered by a groin injury.
"I think it's kind of similar to a Boston game where we had a pretty big crowd and guys were pretty amped for the game," Sixers forward
said, referring to a Dec. 5 loss that drew this year's second-largest crowd, 15,779.
Iguodala will guard Bryant. In last season's home win over the Lakers, the Sixers held Bryant relatively in check. He scored 30 points but shot 12 for 27 from the field.
Throw in the fact that the Sixers will honor
in one of four nights commemorating the 1983 championship team, and the atmosphere should be electric.
didn't practice yesterday, but it had nothing to do with the right-shoulder strain that had been bothering him since Nov. 28. Evans was sick, and when the team flew home from Indianapolis early yesterday morning, he went directly to the hospital.
"It was something he ate, but he was here at practice," coach
Hitting the wall?
says that just because he hasn't been hitting his shots, it doesn't mean he's hit the rookie wall. Smith is 3 for 18 in his last three games.
"I've been struggling with my shot the whole season," said Smith, who is shooting 51 for 121 (42.1 percent). "I've been up and down and need to get more consistency with that."