Sixers aware of pitfalls in playing lesser foes

Posted: February 13, 2012

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - It doesn't matter to Andre Iguodala that almost one full month has gone by since the Charlotte Bobcats last won a basketball game. The only thing that matters to Iguodala and his 76ers teammates is that the Bobcats are next up.

"That's the difference between us this year and last year," Iguodala said Saturday after the Sixers improved to 19-9 with a 99-84 victory over a Cleveland team that was missing starters Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejou. "Last year, we had a tendency to play down to the level of our competition. This year, we don't do that.

"We are really conscious of it," Iguodala continued. "We are saying, 'Hey, we can't just bring our best game against the top teams'. We have to be able to bring it every night and, for the most part, we've been able to do that. That's something that we've really been able to improve on."

The Sixers will face that scenario Monday night in Charlotte. The Bobcats (3-24) have lost a franchise-record 14 games in a row, their last victory coming on Jan. 14 against Golden State. They have lost their last six games by an average of 24.9 points. During this stretch, they have averaged just 77 points per game.

Making matters worse, they once again are expected to be without their top two scorers, former Episcopal Academy standout Gerald Henderson (strained right hamstring) and D.J. Augustin (inflamed big toe). Henderson leads the Bobcats with 15.0 points per game and Augustin averages 13.6.

Conversely, the Sixers are one of the best defensive teams in the league. Meanwhile, Charlotte is scoring a league-low 86.3 points.

What coach Doug Collins essentially is tasked with is preparing the Sixers, who did not practice Sunday, to play a team that, were the season not shortened, would have a realistic chance at breaking the record of the 1972-73 Sixers for the worst record in NBA history.

Michael Jordan, who was coached twice by Collins, once in Chicago and again in Washington, is the majority owner of the Bobcats.

"We sure don't want to let them stop that," Collins said of the Bobcats' skid. "I love Michael, and he's been awfully good to me. But we have to go in and get that game."

Collins hammered that message home to the Sixers before they played Cleveland.

"As I told our guys before, we can't look at somebody's record, who's hurt or whatever," Collins said. "I told our guys we would make a huge mistake if we look and see Kyrie Irving is out tonight and Varejou is not playing. We'll make a huge mistake if we do and our guys did not do that."

With a win, the Sixers will pick up their 20th victory of the season. Last season, it took them 45 games to reach 20 wins.

"Our goal was to get to 20 wins before we get to 10 losses," Collins said. "That would be a hell of a start."

Contact staff writer John N. Mitchell at Follow him @deepsixer3 on Twitter.

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