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A Philadelphia 76ers blog, hosted by Christopher A. Vito

Monday, December 24, 2012


(Associated Press)
NEW YORK – The calls aren't coming. The whistles have been in one team's favor, and that team hasn't been the 76ers.

They understand what's going on – sort of. They have a roster of bigs who prefer mid-range jumpers and guards who like testing themselves from the 3-point line. They get that. What they're struggling to comprehend is the difference between creating contact and initiating contact, which could what's separating them from getting to the line.

“As a referee,” Jrue Holiday said, “when you look at that – or even a regular person when you look at that – every time we play a game, is it that we just don't initiate contact? Or is it that it's not a foul? Why is it different? Why is that margin so bad? I can't really say anything. The only thing I can do is go out there and play.”

In losing, 95-92, to Brooklyn, the Sixers went 8-for-10 at the foul line, compared to 21-for-30 by the Nets. The Sixers have been outscored by 110 points at the free-throw line this season, more than any other team in the NBA.

The Sixers, who continue their roadtrip Wednesday in Memphis, are at a crossroads. They rank 29th in the NBA in free throw attempts, leading only Orlando in opportunities from the line. Without Andrew Bynum, a post player who has a propensity for drawing fouls, or a slashing shooting guard (Jason Richardson, at this stage of his career, just doesn't fit that bill), the Sixers are kind of out of options.

So what are they to do – have Evan Turner sacrifice his burgeoning mid-range game to drive and draw contact? Have Holiday drop the selfless act by passing less and shooting more? Have Dorell Wright take on some of that responsibility?

“You've got to do what you've got to do,” Wright said. “There are a lot of games that we play that are close games. If we lose by six or seven and the other team is beating us at the free-throw line. If fewer of those shots are in the paint, or we're getting to the free-throw line, we can take some games and beat some teams.”

Doing what the Sixers have to do does not involve technical fouls or fines from the league office, though.

“I have to be real careful because I don't want to give away my holiday money,” Sixers coach Doug Collins said. “I have to be real careful. We have to continue to get in there and find a way.”

Added Wright: “I only think I have three techs in my career, and the reason why is I know they're not going to change the call. The only thing you can do is go up to them nicely and say, 'Hey, you missed that,' or 'Hey, what was that?' You've just got to deal with it and do what you can to sell that you got fouled without flopping so you don't get fined – because I'm not trying to get fined.”

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EDITORIAL NOTE: Gang, I took some time off -- in conjunction with the holidays and the Sixers' West Coast roadtrip. I'll next be blogging (barring breaking news) from Oklahoma City for the tail-end of the eight-game stay away from Philly. So enjoy the holidays, be safe and check back with the blog in the near future. Cheers!

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Sunday, December 23, 2012


(Associated Press)
NEW YORK -- As reporters huddled around the lockers of Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner, there was Lavoy Allen, dressing in silence until an interview request came his way.

“I feel special,” Allen said. “Ain't nobody talked to me in weeks. It's been lonely.”

The attention surely was on teammates Holiday and Turner, who had returned from injury to lead the Sixers to a slump-snapping 99-80 victory over Atlanta Friday.

Allen deserved as much postgame focus. The second-year center out of Temple played a season-high 36 minutes, pulling down seven rebounds and scoring six points in the win, which broke a five-game skid.

“I was down there doing all the dirty work, playing good D,” Allen said.

How good was Allen's game? Against the Hawks, it was only the seventh time in 27 games that Allen grabbed seven or more rebounds, he tied a season-high mark with three assists and he threw down a demonstrative dunk over Atlanta's Zaza Pachulia to punctuate the end of the first half.

Considering how little production the Sixers (13-14) have gotten from the centers this season – an average of five points and four rebounds in 21 minutes per game – Allen's performance “was great,” according to coach Doug Collins. It's exactly what the Sixers need, as they open an eight-game road trip Sunday in Brooklyn.

“He'll let me know game-to-game what he's going to do and just take it how it is,” Allen said of Collins' plan for him. “I'll take 34, 35 minutes any day.”

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Friday, December 21, 2012


(Associated Press)
 Andrew Bynum said the bone bruises in his knees are gone, they feel better (aside from a little pain in his left knee) and he's been cleared to begin the first of a six-phase rehab -- which means a stationary bike.

Here's what Bynum had to say before the Sixers' game Friday against Atlanta:

An update?
“The bone bruise is healed, so that's good. There's still cartilage in my left knee. We're working on a plan right now, waiting for Altchek to come back to us and say, 'Let's go.'”

Baby step or a decent step?
“I consider this a baby step, as of right now. We all want it to resolve itself without surgery or anything. There's a really good possibility that's going to be the case.”

Still pain in the left?
“Yeah, there's still pain, but it's minimal.”

Level of optimism in playing?
“Right now, from what the doctors tell me, we should be good. I don't know exactly when, but they said it should resolve itself.”

First phase of rehab starts on a bike?
“Pretty sure it starts on a bike, squats and general stuff.”

Knees feel better now than a month ago?
“They feel real good right now. I'm confident I'll be back on the court this season.”

Surgery still possible?
“No, that's off the table. That's what the doctors said.”

Was that a worry coming into today?
“We got good news out of today. I don't want to sell it short. The bone bruises are healed and the swelling is gone, so those two things are great. We're just waiting for mechanical things, and that's going to take anywhere from a month to two. I have no idea, but we're going to work toward grinding out so it's not causing me anymore problems.”

Media day, we heard opening night. Then we heard you'd be playing by now...
“None of which you heard from me. We got working together. The doctors are taking their time because I want to play for another 10, 12 years, not two. So I think the biggest thing here is to take our time and do it right.”

If playoffs were here, would you play?
“I would consider it, but I'd rather get this mechanical issue away because it opens the door for further risk.”

On this being an issue in contract year
“It is and it isn't. I can't think about it. I just have to go out and play well when I get back. That's it.”

On the 'mechanical issues'
“Just in the function of walking, taking steps, a little bit of catching. We think it'll take care of itself in time.”

“I really don't know. It's just that I know I will be back. It's not a career-ending situation.”

Imagine being on a bike, running?
“That's going to be tough, but it's going to be something I want to go through and just do it and get back in shape. That's the real reason why it's unrealistic to say I'll be back in a couple weeks here or for anybody to have that type of notion. As I said, the knee is good, but we still have a ways to go before I get back.”

How's the right knee?
“The right knee is cool. No problems at all.”

What's with the cornrows?
“It's French braids, man.”



(Associated Press)
Evan Turner and Jrue Holiday will play Friday night against Atlanta, and the Sixers are expected to provide an update regaring Andrew Bynum before the 7 p.m. game.

Sixers general manager Tony DiLeo will speak to reporters at 5:30 p.m. about Bynum, the injured center who visited his personal doctor, David Altchek, Thursday in New York. Bynum is expected to be available to talk about the doctor's visit, as well.

It's believed Bynum underwent MRIs on his bilateral knee bone bruises during his follow-up visit to Altchek. If the Sixers have good news, it might mean that Bynum could begin impact conditioning or basketball-related activities. He's been relegated to swimming and low-impact stuff for the time being.

Turner, who sustained a mild left ankle sprain Wednesday in Houston, is a go. Turner got treatment Thursday on the ankle and participated in Friday's shootaround.

“I'm going to come out and compete tonight,” Turner said.

Turner added that he has no limitations “once I get moving.”

“I ran today,” he said. “I competed at a high-energy level, which I normally do. I'll be fine. I just shouldn't worry about it, you know?”

Holiday, who's missed the last four games with a left foot sprain, also declared himself eligible for a return. He said Sixers trainer Kevin Johnson has been taping Holiday's his foot differently the last few days and said it's working.

Holiday said he appreciated Sixers coach Doug Collins' intent to keep Holiday out until he was 100 percent.

“I feel like if I came back any earlier, I guess the result of what happened would've been the same,” Holiday said. “I probably would have been out anyways because my foot was pretty bad. Again, the trainers took care of business and I'm good to go.”

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Thursday, December 20, 2012


(Associated Press)
HOUSTON -- There was no beating around the bush, no sense sugar-coating it. Thad Young made it clear, in the moments following the Sixers' 125-103 loss to the Rockets, what was to blame.

“We didn't play any defense," he said.

Here's how bad things got for the Sixers:
  • The Rockets, who shot 56 percent overall and 41 percent from 3-point range, had 29 assists on 42 baskets.
  • The Sixers gave up the most points in Doug Collins' three-year tenure. Not since Eddie Jordan's swan song as their coach, April 15, 2009 at Orlando, had the Sixers given up as many points.
  • In their last five games, the Sixers rank third-worst in scoring defense, allowing 106.8 points per game.
  • The Sixers have allowed their last three opponents to breach the 100-point mark, the longest stretch since Collins' first season, in 2010-11.
  • In 25 games, the Sixers' opponents have scored 100-or-more points 10 times. In all of last season, even though it was lockout-shortened, the Sixers gave up 100-or-more 12 times. The Sixers, by the way, ranked second in the NBA a year ago in scoring defense.

So ... where to from here?

"As a team, we can't go out there and score 127, 128 points. One-hundred-anything means we didn't play any defense," Young said. "We just have to go back to the drawing board to figure out how to stop guys and get stops and get back to playing our game."

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A couple injury updates:
Andrew Bynum is visiting his personal physician Thursday in New York and, if David Altchek delivers good news from the follow-up appointment and MRIs, we might have a better idea when Bynum can return.

Jrue Holiday (left foot sprain), who's missed four games, remains day-to-day. Evan Turner (mild left ankle sprain) left Wednesday's game in the third quarter. And X-rays returned negative for rookie Maalik Wayns (right foot pain), who suffered injury in the final minute against the Rockets.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012


(Associated Press)
HOUSTON – Before Tuesday's game, the first of the Sixers' Texas two-step, Kwame Brown detailed what's been nagging him.

First on that list is playing time. After that, it all kind of blends together: a bum shoulder, a once-torn pec muscle, a strained calf, and a recently tweaked knee.

Brown, who's rode the bench for more minutes than he's played this month, earned his third straight start in Tuesday's loss at Dallas. Wednesday here in Houston, Brown figures to start again. He said he's earned. His numbers indicate he hasn't.

“It's tough to sit 12 games and then come out and start. Nothing prepares you for the game like the game,” Brown said the other day. “I've done the treadmill, weight-lifting and running. I'm getting there. The more game experience I get will be better for me and for the team down the road.”

The Sixers are in a rut. They've lost four in a row for the first time this season, and it's because they've been unable to score the way coach Doug Collins would like.

Because they don't have Andrew Bynum, they can't play out of the half-court because it doesn't free up nearly enough 3-point opportunities. They also can't play out of the post, either, with Brown and Lavoy Allen teaming to post offensively anemic numbers out of the center spot. The Sixers were outscored in the paint, 16-2, in the first quarter at Dallas and never recovered from it.

Here's what the Sixers are getting out of their starting centers: An average of 21.7 minutes, 5.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and less than a steal, a block and an assist per game.

That's not good, by the way.

By comparison, Bynum averaged 35.2 minutes, 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per game last season, when he was healthy. This season, some of the league's most-dominant centers are posting similar numbers. The Lakers' Dwight Howard is averaging 36.7/18.1/12.2; the Cavaliers' Anderson Varejao is averaging 36.0/14.1/14.4; and the Grizzlies' Zach Randolph is averaging 36.2/17.2/12.7.

The production – if you want to call it that – the Sixers are getting from their centers is not even in the same realm.

Allen's been a shadow of the guy who turned heads as a rookie in the postseason a year ago, upstaging Boston's Kevin Garnett at times. Allen got five minutes in end-of-the-quarter scenarios against the Mavericks. And in Brown, the Sixers weren't counting on much from the 12-year veteran. They expected him to play solid defense and rebound. And, for the most part, he's done that. Brown had seven boards against the Mavs, and seems to take pride in his defending.

“I can do whatever they need me to do. I'll figure it out,” Brown said. “I've played long enough. I'm not going to let a guy beat me. If you take it personally, you'll figure something out.”

The Sixers have to figure out what they can do to generate offense in the paint until Bynum returns, because Brown and Allen simply aren't cutting it.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012


(Associated Press)

DALLASJrue Holiday sat on the 76ers' bench Tuesday morning, following the team's shootaround. He had a bag of ice on his bum left foot, and struggled to remember the last time he had a foot injury.

Ultimately, the Sixers' point guard said he had a right foot stress fracture, affecting the fifth metatarsal. (Kudos to the kid for remembering the medical jargon.) That was his freshman year of high school, and it happened while playing football.

“I never played football again,” Holiday said.

Holiday felt good enough following the Sixers' shootaround Monday at PCOM to board a flight to Texas, for the first of two games in two days. He said he felt more pain than he had expected in that left foot of his, which he initially injured Dec. 12 against Chicago.

Because of the nagging pain, because of how valuable Holiday has been to the Sixers, and because of the cramped nature of their upcoming schedule of games … Holiday probably shouldn't consider playing Tuesday in Dallas, or even Wednesday in Houston.

The 22-year-old is turning heads in the league, and among voters for the All-Star Game, with his 18.4 points and 8.9 assists per-game averages. He's been a rock for the Sixers, who have yet to get Andrew Bynum on the floor.

So why risk further injury, right?

“What am I going to do – put him out there and have him tear up his knee because he's playing on one foot?” Sixers coach Doug Collins said Tuesday, at American Airlines Center. “That would be really silly (to do) to win a game in December. Do we want to win? Absolutely. But that's why you have 13 guys on your team. Now it's up to somebody else getting an opportunity. Evan (Turner's) got the ball. We've got Dorell (Wright) handling the ball a little bit. Now is not the time to panic. Can't do it.”

Holiday's a gamer. He's not averaging 38 minutes per game accidentally. He wants to win, and he wants to be there for his teammates. But even he understands why it'd be in the Sixers' best interests if he watched Tuesday's game from the bench, as opposed to from the hardwood.

“It is tricky. I feel like we can win a lot of games. I feel like I can help my team. That's a lot of pressure to put on me to come back,” Holiday said. “At the same time, your foot is probably one of the most important parts of just playing basketball, being able to walk, run, jump, all that stuff you have to do to be on your feet. I'm going to try to get back as soon as possible.”

Following these games in Texas, the Sixers host Atlanta Friday then head to Brooklyn for an afternoon tip Sunday. Then, after two days off, they don't play again until Dec. 26 in Memphis.

It's not ridiculous to think the Sixers are considering keeping Holiday on the shelf until then. Getting through six games without him is slightly more manageable than getting through 20.

“We can't make this a residual thing. We can't take an acute injury and make it chronic,” Collins said.

Which is probably why Holiday will be in a suit Tuesday instead of a uniform.

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Monday, December 17, 2012


(Associated Press)
Sunday night, the Sixers blamed their 111-98 loss to the Lakers on 3-point shooting and their inability to defend the line. Nick Young said the Lakers made “unbelievable shots.” Evan Turner said they “hit crazy shots.”

No matter the adjective, the Lakers hit shots – 14 of them from 3-point range. That was far too many, and Doug Collins knew it.

“They spread you, they shoot the 3s. That's what (Lakers coach) Mike D'Antoni has always done,” the Sixers coach said Sunday. “Unfortunately, right now, we are struggling mightily to defend the 3.”

However, it wasn't the Lakers' on-the-mark shooting from beyond the arc that single-handedly sank the Sixers. Despite hitting 10 3-pointers against Los Angeles, the Sixers haven't been the most-adroit team in that category of late.

Consider this: The Sixers, in eight games this month, are shooting 27 percent (33-for-122) from 3-point range. Not coincidentally, the Sixers have a 2-6 record in December. They're also a 7-3 ballclub when they shoot 40 percent or better from 3-point distance.

It's not like one guy's production has tailed off, either. Like an epidemic, the Sixers collectively have been unable to dial in from long distance. Jason Richardson, the team leader in 3-pointers is shooting 26 percent (10-for-38) this month. Dorell Wright, a one-time season leader in 3-pointers made, is shooting 18.7 percent (3-for-16) in December. Turner, an on-the-rise perimeter shooter who's already made more 3-pointers this season than all of last, has only eight makes this month. And Jrue Holiday, who has missed the last two games, is hitting 16.7 percent (3-for-18) of his looks from 3-point range.

The Sixers (12-12), who begin a two-game Texas roadtrip Tuesday in Dallas, were supposed to be a 3-point-shooting team, especially in transition. At least that's how Collins envisioned them in the preseasons. Since then, they've had to rely on a shaky half-court offense that has left their 3-point shooters at a loss. The Sixers are in the middle or toward the back of the NBA stat pack when it comes to 3-pointers: 14th in percentage, 19th in makes, 22nd in attempts. The Mavericks, by the way, rank ninth in the NBA in defending the 3.

Following the loss to the Lakers, plenty of focus by the Sixers – and rightfully so – was placed on their need to defend the 3-point line. Perhaps just as much attention should be placed on scoring from there.

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Sunday, December 16, 2012


(Associated Press)
At one point in the second quarter, when Kobe Bryant dribbled right past one defender, dribbled left past another and found Chris Duhon in the corner for an open 3-pointer, Doug Collins lost it.

The 76ers' coach had seen enough. Collins jumped from his seat on the bench Sunday and began shouting ... just in time for the Sixers to take a double-digit deficit into the locker rooms at halftime. Two quarters later, the Sixers had lost to the Los Angeles Lakers, 111-98.

Collins thinks poor communication -- on offense and defense -- is the reason for the Sixers' three-game losing streak.

“Talking. Guys not talking," Collins said. "I talked to them this morning at shootaround. Until we want to embrace that and talk, we're going to be on roller skates. Whether it be speed, whether it be (getting to) the right spot, whether it be getting back, whatever. Until we start communicating on the floor together – we've got seven new guys. We've got to start to get to know one another. It's interesting – the Lakers were doing to us on the 3-point line what we had planned on doing, the running and jumping that we had worked on. But you've got to trust one another."

The Lakers (11-14) dominated the game at the 3-point line, where they knocked down 14 shots. In short, the Sixers (12-12) made the Lakers look like the Lakers, the team everybody had expected to outrun everybody else to an NBA title.

Evan Turner offered this as a solution to the Sixers' inability to speak to one another.

“We've got to get better at it – maybe communicating louder," Turner said.

In case you think the Sixers have been inept of late offensively from the 3-point line, they've been even worse defending from there. They've shot 33-for-122 (.270) from beyond the arc this month. Defensively, they've allowed teams to shoot 31-for-86 (.360) from there. (More on that Monday.)

So maybe communicating isn't the only issue with the Sixers.

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Thursday, December 13, 2012


(Associated Press)
Jrue Holiday did not practice today, and the Sixers hope he'll make the trip with the team to Indiana for Friday's game against the Pacers.

Holiday sat out with soreness of the left-foot longitudinal arch, a pain he didn't experience the night before, said Sixers coach Doug Collins, but rather something he felt pain in when he woke up Thursday morning.

X-rays on Holiday's left foot were negative and he was undergoing an MRI on it while the Sixers' practiced at PCOM. A team official said the Sixers would provide an update on Holiday later Thursday afternoon.

“Hopefully, it's just precautionary, but his foot is a little sore," Collins said. "The X-ray was negative and I think they're just doing an MRI to make sure he's OK. Until I see him and know he's OK, it's a little disconcerting."

Holiday likely sustained the injury Wednesday night, in a loss to Chicago.

Should the Sixers have to go a lengthy period without him, they could be in trouble. They already lack Andrew Bynum. Removing their best backcourt player -- and a potential All-Star -- from the mix would be devastating. Holiday is averaging 18.4 points and 8.9 assists per game for the Sixers (12-10), who visit the Pacers (11-11) Friday.

Collins said Evan Turner would be his starting point guard and Nick Young would handle the ball some off the bench Friday if Holiday did not make the trip.

"I sure hope I don't have to think about that option," Collins said.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012


(Associated Press)
Evan Turner missed his first four shots of overtime Dec. 7, but hit his last. Jrue Holiday missed a pair of free throws in the final minute of the fourth quarter Monday, but hit his final field-goal attempt.

Both shots turned out to be game-winning buckets for the Sixers. Both likely wouldn't have happened if not for coach Doug Collins' unwavering trust in his players.

"The thing I loved about (Monday) night was Jrue missed two free throws then buried that jump shot," Collins said after Tuesday's practice. "That to me was fantastic, and we went right back to him. From my standpoint, I had forgotten those two free throws. I wanted him to. Those were done, let's move onto the next play.

“If you want to instill that in guys, they have to feel some sort of failure before they have sort of success."

Collins went on at length in discussing who should get the ball in crunch-time situations. Considering have guys have earned nine of their last 10 wins in two-possession games inside the final two minutes and 30 seconds, he had reason to.

The Sixers don't necessarily have that one guy in whom the ball is entrusted, but Collins said the Sixers are trying "to develop that."

“I think every team would always say they'd love to have the ultimate closer," Collins said. "Do you want Michael Jordan or committee? Do you want Mariano Rivera or four short relievers? You want somebody who's going to slam the door."

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012


(Associated Pres
So Andrew Bynum's feeling better, at least that's what he said Monday. And at least in one knee.

He felt good enough Tuesday to be on the floor at PCOM. When the curtain went up and the practice was opened to the media, there Bynum was – hoisting baseline shots without leaving his feet at one end of the floor.

Sixers coach Doug Collins said Bynum views practice whenever Collins is implementing things into the offense that he wants Bynum to see. Collins said he heard a Cliffsnotes version of what Bynum said Monday, and said “that's exciting.”

“The fact that he's looking on Dec. 20, the one knee is feeling great? Yeah, that's exciting,” Collins said. “Dec. 20, it'd sure be nice to see him ramp up his activity.

“He's been out here (at practice) most times when we go through stuff because we're constantly evolving our team. I'm still trying to figure us out, as far as what's good for our team.”

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Monday, December 10, 2012


(Associated Press)

Andrew Bynum spoke to reporters Monday about his health status. He has yet to play for the Sixers, while dealing with bilateral bone bruises and weakened cartilage in both knees. Here's what Bynum had to say:
Any update?
“Left knee is still really, really sore. Right knee is actually better, which is good.”

How do you gauge improvement?
“Just banging it. Walking around. I have an appointment on the 20th. Worst-case scenario, it's another month. Best-case scenario, I can ramp it up.”

MRI that day?
“Probably so. I don't know yet.”

Better today than last time we spoke to you?
“Not the left knee. My right feels much, much better. Swelling is down.”

This season been disappointing?
“Health is going to be an issue. There's nothing I can really do about it. It's arthritis in the knees. Cartilage is missing. That's not going to regrow itself. Maybe in the future, the next three to five years, there may be something out there that really does help. For right now, it's a waiting game.”

Opinion of teammates
“Jrue and Evan's play has been really good. Evan is doing more than filling in for Iguodala, which is great. And Jrue has just developed into a hell of a player. J-Rich is helping. I want to see more of the young guys, personally – Maalik and Arnett. I think they could really help give us a push.”

Feel connected to them?
“Off the court, we're great. Having fun and stuff. It's good.”

Have your knees gotten worse?
“It hasn't gotten worse. It's just continuous pain. I think it's just the bone bruise has to heal. It's a mirror image of my right knee. My right knee took four months. I think we're a little ahead of the curve because two months (ago), my right knee was swelling pretty big. We've gotten the swelling out of that already and I think it could be quicker.”

Crossed your mind about never playing here?
“No. It hasn't. It's obviously a possibility depending on what my doctor tells me, but I really think I'll be fine. If my left knee gets better and feels like my right knee, I'll be fine.”

Pain threshold that's still playable for you?
“As far as a threshold on the pain, it's about I think protecting and being cautious about my knees. I feel this pain walking around, so I think it'd be kind of silly to kind of start running or do anything basketball (related), because it's only going to get worse. Until it heals up, until this Germany procedure's half-life is over, being cautious and taking time and giving it its time to heal (is best). If this was the Finals, and it could be potentially, me helping this team win, I'm going to play because I think that's a serious time and you want to be a part of that. I don't think, especially right now, that it'd be a good time to risk anything. Why risk it when you have time to come back and be 100 percent?”

Feel pressure within organization?
“Initially. I had to kind of relax a little bit. Being impatient in this situation would definitely be a detriment, so I wouldn’t do that.”

How many games will it take to get in game shape?
“Game-wise, I think it’ll be pretty quick – once I’m back. To be in game shape, it’s going to be a week or maybe two at the max to be there. Getting there is going to be the hard part.”

How have you stayed in shape?
“Swimming, swimming, swimming. That’s it. Supposedly if you swim 10 laps straight, it’s 250 calories, so I swim 20 to 30 laps.”

Knee doesn't hurt while swimming?

If not for setback with left knee, right is doing fine?
“My right knee is feeling really, really good. I would definitely chance it on the right side. I think it’s more evidence my knees weren’t right if they got hurt more because it’s definitely going to happen if I play basketball.”

How much higher can the afro grow?
“Oh man, I want it to go forever, man. There’s going to come and point in time where it’s not going to be growing, so I might as well enjoy it while I have it.”

Why flatten it like Dora the Explorer that one time?
“It wasn’t Dora, man. It was ‘Pimp Named Slickback’ (a character from The Boondocks cartoon). No, I flattened it because it gets boring picking it out all the time.”

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Saturday, December 8, 2012


BOSTON – The Sixers bypassed shootaround today, coming off a thrilling overtime win Friday night in the front end of a home-and-home series against the Celtics. When they take the court tonight at TD Garden, they're more than likely going to be riding the high of their 95-94 triumph the night before.

No one should be more thrilled than Evan Turner.

The Sixers' third-year small forward came up big, his 13-footer in the lane with four seconds to go proving the difference. But it's not just one game with Turner. It's been nearly a month of consistent play from him.

In the Sixers' first eight games, Turner shot 36 percent (29-for-80), with averages of 10.6 points, eight rebounds and three assists. In their last 11, Turner's shooting 50 percent overall (79-for-159), averaging 18.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists. Moreover, his confidence has spilled over into his outside shooting. Not always known as a 3-point shooter, he took only six treys in the first eight games. Since, he's taken 27 and made 12, hitting at a 44-percent clip.

“I feel like this is how I was always supposed to be playing,” Turner said. “As I've said, I started off the year a little anxious – all these butterflies. I was able to settle down, take shots, make shots I've been taking all summer and my whole life.

“I think I earned the right to play well.”

Turner has. He's waited his turn, playing in a spot-starter's capacity the first two seasons of his career. He's answered all the questions regarding whether he was overrated, getting picked second overall in the 2010 draft. And he wasn't even listed on the All-Star ballot this season, a further nod to how the rest of the league viewed Turner.

Sixers coach Doug Collins appreciates Turner's play, even if the rest of the league might not.

“He's a guy who has a chance to be a tremendous leader. He really does,” Collins said of Turner. “Of all the guys on our team, he has the best leadership potential.”

A few more things to consider about Turner: He's scored in double figures in 11 consecutive games, a career-best streak. He's scored 20 or more points in four of his last seven. He's played more than 32 minutes in each of his last 11 appearances, against four games in his first eight with 30 or fewer.

This might possibly be the best run of Turner's pro career ... and he'll be looking to continue it tonight against the Celtics.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012


(Associated Press)
The Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant needs 13 points Wednesday night to become the fifth player in NBA history to eclipse the 30,000-point mark.

Sixers coach Doug Collins, who has coached one of those five, knows it takes a special talent to reach that milestone. Collins picked up a unique perspective on that mark when he coached Michael Jordan, both in Chicago and Washington.

“You have to have incredible talent and you have to have – this is what I always talk about (with) greatness: greatness answers the bell every night. I saw it with Michael Jordan," Collins said following the Sixers' practice at PCOM. "Michael Jordan was not allowed to come and have a so-so game. He not only had to throw up a huge game, but he had to do something spectacular that people were talking about going home. There’s a mindset you have. Kobe wants to play all 82 games, he never wants to miss. That’s a badge of courage for him. It was always for Michael. I think when Michael was 40, on my team, he was the only person that played all 82 games. That’s important to be there every night for your team."

Collins also spoke of the personal level on which he knows Bryant, who was born the same year as Collins' daughter Kelly. Collins was a teammate of Joe "Jellybean" Bryant, Kobe's father, at the time of their childrens' births, so "I've watched Kobe grow." 

Collins said there's something to be appreciated in the work ethic of players like Bryant and Jordan, especially in how Jordan scored his 30,000th point, how he elevated his play after ending an 866-game streak of scoring in double figures.

(Associated Press)
"He and Michael remind me so much of each other," Collins said. "...I had Michael with Washington (in 2001-02) and he came off that eight-point game in Indiana (actually a career-low six) that broke that long, long streak. He came back his next night and had 51 against Jersey, then I think he had 45 against Charlotte, and then we played Chicago and – double-check – but I think he got his 30,000th point, I think Ron Artest fouled him, and he hit two free throws to get his 30,000th point when I was coaching him. I remember Ron Artest standing in front of our bench and punching the scorething or whatever and saying he did not want Michael to get his 30,000th point against him or whatever."

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012


(Associated Press)

Doug Collins has a theory for Spencer Hawes’ lack of production: The Sixers coach thinks Hawes, his top post option off the bench, is suffering from mental cramps.

Here’s Collins’ explanation:
“When Spencer slows down, or when he tries to get going too fast, that’s when things don’t work out for him,” Collins said following Monday’s practice. “He’s so smart, it’s like he has a pre-read. ‘I’m going to catch it and drive,’ and the guys back off of him. Or ‘I’m going to shoot it,’ and the guy is crowding him. Or ‘I’m going to run a dribble hand-off and I’m going to look backdoor,’ and the backdoor is not there. Spencer is incredibly smart and Spencer puts a lot of pressure on himself. … I need 24 to 25 consistent minutes from him off our bench. When you go to your bench, you know what you’re getting.”

And lately, Collins has gotten a grab bag from Hawes, the fifth-year big. Some games better than others. Largely, they’ve been a disappointment.

Hawes hasn’t come close to matching his performance in the Oct. 31 opener, when he paired 16 points with 12 rebounds and enjoyed chants of ‘M-V-P,’ albeit playful ones, from the fans at Wells Fargo Center.

Even Collins’ most basic expectations of Hawes haven’t been met. A big should garner contact down low. Hawes hasn’t, to the tune of five free-throw attempts in the last five games (entering Tuesday night against Minnesota) and none in the last three. A big should rebound. Hawes hasn’t, collecting more than three rebounds in only one of the Sixers’ last six games.

Hawes’ season averages are among the worst in his career.

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Monday, December 3, 2012


(Associated Press)

Statistically speaking, Doug Collins has one of the best benches in the NBA. But that's not stock he's willing to buy.

A couple factors have contributed to Collins' struggling to find the right mix, night to night. Who comes off the bench first? Who goes in what role? Who's a scoring source? Who can provide lock-down defense?

 “Teams are trying to find who their bench is," Collins said Monday, after practice at PCOM. "Last year, our bench was Lou (Williams), Thad (Young), Lavoy (Allen) and Evan (Turner) – three starters now and a guy who’s not on our team. And so we’re trying to create something that, maybe, was our greatest strength last year. We’re trying to find out."

The Sixers, who rank fourth in the NBA with 38.8 points per game from their reserves, trail only Denver, San Antonio and Dallas in bench points. Still, plenty of uncertainty surrounds the Sixers' bench, with Collins citing a sense of belonging among his non-starters. Saturday, Collins went to his bench for only 49 minutes of a possible 240 in a loss at Chicago.

"What we have to do with that is know who you are, know what you bring and bring that every night so I can count on that," Collins said, of what he tells his bench players. "The thing that we have is we don’t have a lot of separation. What happens if I need Royal Ivey, but not Maalik (Wayns)? Now Maalik goes, ‘I don’t know what my role is because I didn’t play tonight.’ Or Royal gets a couple DNPs and goes, ‘I haven’t been in the rotation.’ Or Kwame (Brown) gets eight minutes in Charlotte, then doesn’t play the other night, but I need him big tomorrow night against (Minnesota's Nikola) Pekovic. So that’s what you’re up against. Just be consistent with who you are and your role will be there."

One of those reserves from whom the Sixers need more is Spencer Hawes (pictured), whose production has dipped tremendously since posting a double-double and eliciting 'M-V-P' chants from a sold-out Wells Fargo Center Oct. 31 in the season opener.

And Hawes knows it.

“I’ve always been harder on myself than anyone else," Hawes said.

More on Hawes Tuesday, so check back then.

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