PORTLAND, Ore. - Besides being the NBA's hottest team, the Portland Trail Blazers have added incentive when they host the 76ers (13-16) at 6 tonight at the Rose Garden.
The Trail Blazers (17-12) have won 12 consecutive games, including nine at home.
That would be enough incentive for any team to keep firing, but the Blazers also are attempting to avenge a 92-88 loss in Philadelphia on Nov. 16. In that game, Portland squandered a 25-point lead in the second quarter.
"I was bothered by our defense, and we allowed them to drive to the basket, and we kind of panicked," Portland coach Nate McMillan said yesterday in a phone conversation.
To prepare for the game, McMillan showed his team a tape of the earlier game, not as a motivating factor but to demonstrate how far Portland has come. Before its 12-game winning streak, Portland had gone through a 1-9 stretch.
The Sixers are also on a nice run, having won three in a row and eight of their last 11.
They have won four of their last five on the road following Friday's 92-80 win at Sacramento that kicked off a six-game road trip.
The Sixers said that Portland will use the earlier game as a motivating factor.
"They definitely want to avenge that loss," Andre Iguodala said following yesterday's practice.
Iguodala scored nine of his 16 points in the fourth quarter of Friday's win. Jason Smith shot 4 for 4, and Thaddeus Young was 3 for 4 off the bench, scoring nine and six points, respectively.
Iguodala said the Sixers were sluggish on Friday. The score was tied, 63-63, entering the fourth quarter when the Sixers pulled away with a 29-17 advantage.
Now, the Sixers look forward to the challenge of stopping the Blazers' streak.
"They have to lose sometime," Iguodala said.
A key will be limiting Portland's dynamic second-year players Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge.