Lack of consistent effort has been the 76ers' Achilles' heel this week.

As a result, one has to wonder which Sixers team will show up Saturday night against the Phoenix Suns at the Wells Fargo Center.

Will it be the squad that fought hard Wednesday night in a victory over the Washington Wizards? Or will it be the team with lifeless efforts in blowout losses on Monday to the Houston Rockets and Thursday to the Minnesota Timberwolves?

Say what you will about the Sixers (2-10) during the previous three seasons. A roster filled with fringe players, they were purposely constructed to lose, and that they did. However, their effort rarely came into question.

The same cannot be said of this season's squad.

The Sixers appeared to be on auto pilot in the two losses this week once it became obvious they were overmatched.

On Thursday, the Timberwolves kept outhustling them in just about everything en route to a 110-86 laugher at the Target Center.

"We didn't start the game horribly," Gerald Henderson said. "But we just didn't sustain our energy and effort. They played really hungry.

"Last time [Wednesday, against Washington], we played very hungry, but we didn't sustain that [on Thursday], especially in that second quarter. They really took off."

The Timberwolves outscored the Sixers, 34-15, in the decisive quarter by shooting 56.5 percent. Minnesota swingman Andrew Wiggins kept blowing past defenders like the Sixers thought it was an in-game mannequin challenge. He made all five of his shots in the quarter to score 11 of his game-high 35 points. Wiggins also finished with a career-high tying 10 rebounds and four assists.

But he wasn't alone in punishing the lackluster visitors.

Karl-Anthony Towns did whatever he wanted en route to producing 25 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks.

"They played good tonight," said Henderson, realizing his team could have been more competitive on Thursday. "They're not killing the game. They played well tonight. They've got some good, talented young players that know how to score the basketball, and they beat us."

The Sixers also showed little emotion in Monday's 115-88 loss to the Rockets at the Toyota Center. It was as if some of them accepted the reality that they were going to lose big and just wanted to get it over.

The fight and grit that used to be a staple of the franchise disappeared as James Harden imposed his will and maneuvered his way to 33 points. At one point, Trevor Ariza just ripped the ball out of a Sixer player's hand before passing to Harden, who was streaking to the basket for a breakaway layup.

Now, the Sixers' attention is turned to the struggling Suns. Phoenix will play the second game of a back-to-back situation. The Suns took a 3-9 record and a three-game losing streak into Friday's matchup against the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis.

So which Sixers team is going to show up Saturday night?

Noel returning

Nerlens Noel said Friday that he was boarding a plane for Philadelphia in the evening and would continue his rehabilitation under the 76ers' supervision on Saturday. The Sixers reserve center had surgery to repair inflamed tissue above his left knee on Oct. 24. He has been rehabilitating with Kevin Wilk, the associate clinical director at Champion Sports Medicine in Birmingham, Ala.

The 6-foot-11, 228-pounder said his knee is to the point where he can resume his rehabilitation with the Sixers at their practice facility in Camden.

Noel has been sidelined since Oct. 6. His only game action was the preseason-opening matchup two days earlier against the Boston Celtics at the University of Massachusetts. He practiced the following day, but has since been sidelined with what the Sixers thought was just a left groin strain. Noel kept experiencing pain in his knee. After being examined, the team realized that he also had an inflamed plica.

@PompeyOnSixers