Lavoy Allen improving for 76ers

Lavoy Allen hugs Evan Turner. Allen had 22 rebounds and 14 points against the Bobcats.
Lavoy Allen hugs Evan Turner. Allen had 22 rebounds and 14 points against the Bobcats. (RON CORTES / Staff)
Posted: February 11, 2013

The wiggle room the 76ers had last year heading into the all-star break is nonexistent this time around.

A 20-9 start last season helped the Sixers survive a 15-22 finish that began with a momentum-killing five-game losing streak right before the break. They led the Atlantic Division at the all-star break last year.

Before they reach the break this season, the fourth-place Sixers know the importance of games against the Los Angeles Clippers (36-17) and the Milwaukee Bucks (25-24).

"When we took that little five-game losing streak into the break, we had a little room," Sixers forward/center Lavoy Allen said. "But now we are in ninth place [in the conference] and trying to get back into playoff contention, so we have to continue playing well."

A second-year player, Allen had the best game of his career Saturday in an 87-76 win over the Bobcats. He finished with 14 points and a career-high 22 rebounds. Allen became the first Sixer with 20 or more rebounds since Samuel Dalembert grabbed 21 against New York on Jan. 13, 2010.

Allen is starting at power forward in place of the injured Thaddeus Young (hamstring). Sixers coach Doug Collins knows that Allen eventually will return to his reserve role.

Allen's up-and-down play this season - he is averaging 6.7 points and 5.6 rebounds after being awarded a two-year, $6 million contract - has baffled his coach.

Collins noted that throughout Allen's collegiate career at Temple, he grew stronger and better as the season progressed.

In his senior year, Allen averaged 10.6 points and 5.9 rebounds. However, in the final 17 games, Allen had 11 double-doubles and averaged 13.0 points and 11.1 rebounds.

"It's like what I'm seeing here with him; it's like he's picking up as we go along," Collins said, attributing Allen's better play lately to superior conditioning and growing confidence.

The Sixers will need another strong effort Monday at home against Clippers starting power forward Blake Griffin, a starter for the Western Conference all-star team.

"Lavoy's the one guy that doesn't mind getting knocked around a little bit," Collins said. "It doesn't get any easier for him against Blake Griffin."

The Sixers (22-27) have won five of their last seven games after a horrendous stretch in which they lost 19 of 26. But four of their last five wins have come against Washington, Sacramento, Orlando, and Charlotte, teams with a combined 28.5 winning percentage (57-143) entering Sunday.

They will face tougher tests against the Clippers on Monday and at Milwaukee on Wednesday.

Contact John N. Mitchell at Follow @JmitchInquirer on Twitter.

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