Lopsided losses piling up for 76ers

December 8th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Lopsided losses piling up for 76ers


Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA - Allen Iverson is hurting. So is Chris Webber. Nothing has been quite as painful for either of Philadelphia's stars as the lopsided losses that are piling up at an alarmingly rapid rate. Although the 76ers were hardly expected to be a playoff team, the blowouts, finger pointing and overall grumpiness has been an unpleasant surprise only 17 games into the season.
Iverson wants some sort of unspecified changes. Webber's 20 point, 10-rebound games are a fading memory, and stout defense seems more a wonderful theory than anything Philadelphia actually ever plays.
It's all added up to one of the worst starts of the last decade.
"No one's going to feel sorry for us," coach Maurice Cheeks said after Thursday's practice.
The Sixers sure are doing their best, though, to invoke some sympathy. Maybe there's a fan or two who might offer some, but no other team in the NBA sure cares the Sixers are 5-12. The season is only getting worse considering Philadelphia's 121-94 loss at Chicago on Wednesday night was its largest margin of defeat this season.
Oh, by the way, the loss also was: a season high in points allowed; a fifth straight loss; their 12th loss in 14 games; and their ninth loss in 11 road games (seven straight).
"I've been through a lot of blowouts in my career," Iverson said after the game. "A blowout is a blowout."
One consolation is few in Philly have seen these losses in person. The Sixers play 22 of their first 33 games on the road, and are already 2-9 away from the Wachovia Center. They get a brief break starting with Friday's game against Washington, playing four of the next seven at home in a stretch that the ever-optimistic Cheeks hopes can trigger some better all-around basketball.
"We've got to get one win to turn ourselves around," Cheeks said. "We get one win and a lot of good things can happen for you."
Like making the playoffs. Don't laugh. Yes, Samuel Dalembert has a better chance of winning the 3-point shootout, but the silver lining is that the Sixers are as close to a division title as they are to the draft lottery. With every team under .500 in the Atlantic Division, the Sixers are only 1 1/2 games behind Toronto and New Jersey, who are tied for first.
"If we had won a couple of games that we thought we had, we'd be somewhere near the top, "Cheeks said. "The fact that we are (1 1/2) games out is not a false sense of security. It's a reality. All we have to do is play a little better."
But here's another sobering nugget: the Sixers are only one-half game away from the worst record in the NBA (both Memphis and Charlotte are 5-13).
Cheeks wants the Sixers to play harder and with added enthusiasm. The players groan that they're not having any fun on the court. Iverson, who left the Bulls game early and sat out Thursday's practice with back spasms, not so-subtly hinted he's not happy with the game plan.
"We've lost 12 out of 14 games and obviously, something needs to be done," he said. "There needs to be a change. Somehow, something needs to be scrambled up. We need to figure out how to play a different way, because the way we're playing is not getting it done."
Cheeks has tinkered with the lineup of late, shifting swingman Andre Iguodala to point guard and starting rookie Rodney Carney at small forward. Cheeks' intention for the change was to force the energetic Iguodala to become move involved and more aggressive in the offense. So far, the only result has been more losses.
"When you go into tailspin, you find positive things to work with," Cheeks said.
Cheeks needs to find a way to jolt Webber and his creaky knees into becoming a more regular contributor. He's averaging only 10.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and missed Thursday's practice with a bruised right foot. Webber's been so upset over his reduced role that he met last month with team president Billy King, but did not request a trade.
While Cheeks understands why the players are unhappy, he said it's up to everyone to snap the Sixers out of their season-long funk.
"I have to do a better job, players have to do a better job," Cheeks said. "It's not just one person or two people or just a coach or just a player. It's all of us combined."

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