(AP) — The Philadelphia 76ers and New York Knicks appear to be going in opposite directions heading into a weekend in which they meet twice.
The surging 76ers look for their eighth win in 11 games Friday night when they try to hand the Knicks a sixth straight road loss.
Philadelphia (22-26) has used its surge to pull within three games of sixth-place New York (25-23) in the Eastern Conference. The 76ers lead the NBA in bench points with 39.8 per game and have showcased their youth and athleticism since starting 3-13 under first-year coach Doug Collins.
The Knicks, who will host the 76ers on Sunday, have dropped eight of 11. New York is seeking its first winning record in 10 seasons with the addition of All-Star Amare Stoudemire, and it won eight straight on the road in one stretch before four of its last five away from home have been against teams with winning records.
“I think we still have to beat the teams we’re supposed to beat,” Stoudemire said. “We’ve got a couple games coming up here that we feel we’ve got a great chance to win. And we just have to make sure we capitalize off of them.”
Philadelphia may not necessarily be a team that New York is supposed to beat. The 76ers won 106-96 at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 7 by placing five players in double-figure scoring.
Philadelphia is playing even better now, winning 106-92 at New Jersey on Wednesday. Lou Williams scored 26 points and Jrue Holiday had 11 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for his first career triple-double.
“Jrue Holiday had his first triple-double so we gave him the game ball,” Collins said. “Elton Brand got some big rebounds for us. Lou Williams came off the bench and did a great job for us. A lot of good stuff for us tonight.”
The Sixers have five players who average in double figures, including reserves Williams and Thaddeus Young. Williams and Holiday each scored 19 points in the first meeting with the Knicks.
New York had its three-game home win streak snapped with Wednesday’s 113-97 loss to Dallas. Stoudemire finished with 21 points but missed all five shots in a scoreless second half before leaving for good as the game got out of hand.
“The shots were good looks,” Stoudemire said. “There are just some nights like this where you miss your shots, but I think collectively in the second half, we just didn’t come out with good energy.”
The Knicks did not play like the team that averages a conference-best 106.5 points. Raymond Felton’s shooting slump continued as he made 4 of 14 shots for 11 points, dropping to 33.3 percent from the field in his last 10 games.
“We’re going to have to be more aggressive on the defensive end and get into people and want it a little more than them,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “You know, they’re an older, experienced team and they ran harder than we did, didn’t seem like they got tired.”
New York’s Wilson Chandler is expected to return to the lineup after missing the last three games with a sore left calf. He is third on the team with 16.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.
The Knicks won both meetings in Philadelphia last season after losing their previous nine visits.
Updated February 3, 2011
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