One of the positive developments in a 76ers season with very few is that forward Thaddeus Young was on schedule in returning from his hamstring injury.
Young was back in the lineup for Sunday’s 99-93 loss to the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden after missing six games.
He suffered the injury on Feb. 4 in a 78-61 win over the visiting Orlando Magic. At the time, Young was expected to miss three weeks.
Not only did Young return on Sunday but he played just under 36 minutes and produced a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
“I am feeling good and I have no pain at all,” Young said after this morning’s shootaround in preparation for tonight’s game at the Wells Fargo Center against the Magic. “My body was a little sore from trying to get back out and playing 36 minutes with a tough matchup with Carmelo Anthony.”
Young said that in his second game back, he’s hoping to get into a better rhythm.
He admitted to being a little tentative upon his return.
“That is natural for any guy coming off an injury,” Young said. “Of course as the game went on and I got more in sync with the game and more warmed up, I started feeling pretty good.”
Magic point guard Jameer Nelson, the former standout at Chester High and St. Joseph’s University, didn’t make the trip due to a knee contusion.
“This is a one-day trip for us and we left him home so he could get rehab and we hope to have him back soon,” Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. “It is nothing serious, kind of day to day.”
Nelson is averaging 14.5 points and 7.4 assists.
“His experience has been huge because we are young and whether he says something in the locker room, in timeouts, he is able to settle guys down during the course of a game,” Vaughn said. “He has been there before and done that and guys listen to him.”
Both teams have lost five consecutive games. The Sixers (22-32) remain four games behind Milwaukee for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot, but it’s really like being five games back since the Bucks own the tiebreaker due to a 3-0 record in the season series.
In addition, Toronto is just a half game behind the Sixers. The Magic have dropped 17 of their last 18 games.
“Tonight is huge because we are on a losing streak, they are on a losing streak and we have to try to figure something out sooner than later,” Young said.
Former Sixer playing well
Former Sixer center Nik Vucevic is enjoying a strong season for the Magic, averaging 12.4 points and 11.3 rebounds in 32.6 minutes for the Magic.
“I think Nik has been one of our most consistent players through the course of the year,” Vaughn said.
Last season for the Sixers, Vucevic averaged 5.5 points and 4.3 rebounds in 15.9 minutes. He appeared in 51 regular season games and only one playoff contest.
“I am a huge competitor and want to be on the court and help the team win,” Vucevic said. “Last year we had a lot of good players at my position and I used it as motivation to try to improve and get better.”
Contact Marc Narducci at firstname.lastname@example.org or @sjnard on Twitter.