PHILADELPHIA -- The 76ers have a winning record and the fifth seed in sight.
The Sixers are jostling for fifth place in the East with 12 games left, a pivotal spot that would help them avoid a date with Cleveland, Boston or Orlando in the first round.
If any other teams want to start all its reserves like Minnesota, Thaddeus Young and the rest of the Sixers won't complain.
Young scored 29 points and Andre Miller had 15 to lead the Sixers to a 96-88 win over the revamped Timberwolves on Wednesday night.
The Sixers (37-33) pulled a half-game behind Miami in the Eastern Conference standings and upped their odds toward clinching their first winning record in four seasons. The Heat lost 90-88 at Indiana on Wednesday.
"It's going to go all the way down to the last game of the season for positioning," Miller said. "It's there. We're in position to get there. We've just got to go out there and make it happen."
After misfiring all game from long range, the Sixers won this one on the long ball.
The Sixers are the worst 3-point shooting team in the NBA and hadn't made one all game until the fourth quarter. Andre Iguodala and Royal Ivey hit two apiece in the quarter to open up a double-digit lead and led Philadelphia to its 10th win in the past 15 games.
The Sixers returned from a 3-2 West Coast trip that included a last-shot victory over the Lakers and wins in their final two games.
"We've got to continue to play at a high level like we did on the West Coast," Iguodala said.
Rodney Carney stuck it to his former team with 21 points and Craig Smith had 20 for the Timberwolves, whose new lineup couldn't help them avoid their sixth straight loss.
"I had nothing to prove," Carney said. "They know I've been playing well."
Iguodala, who scored 15, hit the go-ahead 3-pointer early in the fourth for a rare bright spot in an otherwise horrid game from the floor. Ivey made back-to-back 3-pointers for a 76-69 lead and the Sixers started to pull away from the lowly Timberwolves.
Young, who went 9-for-18, made a fadeaway 21-footer and made a layup to cap an 11-0 run and give Philadelphia a double-digit lead. Ivey's 3s were his only two baskets and points of the game.
"When Coach calls your number, it's your turn to perform," Ivey said.
Carney kept Minnesota in the game and one of his seven 3-pointers late in the game trimmed the deficit to seven.
Young, though, punctuated the win with a thunderous dunk to make it 94-85 and send the fans toward the exits.
Coach Kevin McHale spun his decision to start five reserves in place of the regular lineup as a reward for the way they helped fuel a late comeback against Oklahoma. So Randy Foye, Ryan Gomes and the rest were out, Carney, Smith, Brian Cardinal, Kevin Ollie and Bobby Brown were out for the opening tip.
Carney and Cardinal made McHale look like a genius early when they hit consecutive 3s for Minnesota's first two baskets. With the same unit on the floor to open the second half, Carney delivered with two more 3-pointers for a 55-49 lead.
The Sixers closed the quarter on a 9-0 run, thanks to five free throws, to give them a 65-62 lead into the fourth.
Minnesota didn't quite get the boost from its reserves-turned-starters McHale wanted and shot only 36 percent from the floor with 15 turnovers.
"They guys on the bench have been playing hard and they played hard tonight," McHale said. "I had to reward them for playing hard.
Finishing above .500 isn't as much a reward for Sixers coach Tony DiLeo as claiming the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.
"We're not out to finish with a winning record," DiLeo said. "We're out to get the best position we can and try to win every game. Those are things that are more important to us right now."
Well, a winning record would surely keep Philly in the hunt for the fifth seed.
"Want to get the best seed possible," Young said. "We're going to go out there and definitely keep fighting for the fifth spot and go out there and keep winning."
They won this one at the expense of their former teammates.
Carney and Ollie are both former Sixers, and Ollie went head-to-head with Young on a jump ball late in the first half.
"Thad won easily; both shared a laugh on way back down court," according to a tweet on the 76ers' Twitter feed.
The Sixers are on the Twitter bandwagon and use the popular social networking Web site to offer news updates or provide fans the sights and sounds normally not available to them from the stands or on TV.
"Dre Miller just gets called for foul on a Randy Foye drive and immediately yells, "All chest! That was all chest!" ... 14-12 Sixers now," one post read.
The final post was a simple one: Sixers win.
Foye (1-for-10, eight points) and Minnesota assistant coach Ed Pinckney both starred at Villanova and visited Tuesday's practice to wish the Wildcats well before they left for Boston and their regional semifinal game against Duke. Both players predictably predicted Villanova would win. ... DiLeo said he had never heard of Twitter or tweets. ... Minnesota's Mike Miller pulled up lame in the fourth quarter.
|Philadelphia (37-33) «||14||23||28||31||96|
|MIN:R. Carney 21 Pts
MIN:R. Gomes 9 Reb
MIN:K. Ollie 4 Ast
|PHI:T. Young 29 Pts
PHI:A. Miller 7 Reb
PHI:A. Iguodala 6 Ast
|Players of the Game|
|R. Carney, SF||32||7-10||0-0||2||0||4||21|
|C. Smith, PF||25||7-14||6-7||4||2||6||20|
|K. Ollie, PG||23||2-4||2-2||0||4||3||6|
|B. Cardinal, PF||23||2-7||0-0||5||3||3||6|
|B. Brown, PG||9||0-2||0-0||0||0||0||0|
|R. Foye, PG||36||1-10||5-5||1||4||2||8|
|R. Gomes, PF||32||2-11||2-2||9||2||2||7|
|K. Love, PF||22||4-8||4-4||9||0||2||12|
|M. Miller, SF||19||2-5||1-3||5||2||2||6|
|S. Telfair, PG||18||1-6||0-0||1||2||4||2|
|M. Madsen, PF||Did Not Play|
|J. Collins, C||Did Not Play|
|A. Jefferson, PF||Did Not Play|
|S. Williams, PF||Did Not Play|
|C. Brewer, SF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|A. Iguodala, SF||41||4-14||5-6||7||6||0||15|
|T. Young, SF||39||9-18||11-14||3||0||2||29|
|A. Miller, PG||35||5-9||5-6||7||2||3||15|
|S. Dalembert, C||21||3-3||2-2||7||0||4||8|
|W. Green, SG||20||3-7||0-0||0||0||1||6|
|L. Williams, SG||26||1-9||7-8||5||5||1||9|
|R. Evans, PF||20||0-0||4-4||3||0||4||4|
|R. Ivey, PG||16||2-3||0-0||2||1||1||6|
|T. Ratliff, C||12||0-2||0-0||4||0||2||0|
|M. Speights, PF||8||2-5||0-0||2||0||2||4|
|D. Marshall, PF||4||0-1||0-0||1||0||1||0|
|E. Brand, PF||Did Not Play|
|K. Rush, SG||Did Not Play|
|J. Smith, PF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|