Philadelphia 76ers coach Doug Collins has done his best patching
together lineups with the team generally struggling without a
couple key players.
As a result, players like Nick Young are beginning to embrace
Philadelphia reaches the halfway point of an eight-game
homestand Friday night as it seeks an eighth victory in nine
meetings with the Sacramento Kings.
Andrew Bynum has yet to play for the 76ers (19-26) due to a
right knee injury after being acquired in the Dwight Howard trade,
and Jason Richardson is likely to miss a sixth straight game Friday
because of a left knee problem.
Collins has started Young the last three games in place of
Richardson and has given him increased minutes in the past six.
Young is averaging 17.8 points over the last four, including 18 in
Wednesday’s 92-84 win over Washington as Philadelphia improved to
2-1 on its homestand.
Dorell Wright had seven points and seven rebounds in 16 minutes
after not playing the previous two games.
“It’s been a challenge, to say the least, to try to get the
pieces to fit,” said Collins, who has started 11 different players.
“I thank them for their professionalism. It’s very easy for guys
who have been in the league a long time like that to just pack it
in, and neither one of them did that.”
Young was benched for a win over Houston on Jan. 12, providing
him with the motivation to contribute in any way he’s asked.
“That DNP, it hurt,” Young said. “Sitting on the sideline, I
don’t want to get back to that. I’m starting to buy into what the
coaches are talking about.”
Collins has noticed the difference.
“He has really listened as we’ve tried to teach,” Collins said.
“He has talent. I knew if he focused, he could be a terrific
player. He’s earned the respect of his teammates and coaches.”
The Sixers haven’t won back-to-back games since a season
high-tying three-game winning streak Nov. 25-30. They’ll try to do
so against a Sacramento team they’ve beaten by an average of 18.4
points over their last seven victories in the series.
The Kings’ only win in the past eight meetings came in
They enter this one having dropped five of six, with the defeats
coming by an average of 14.8 points. They’re allowing an average of
106.5 points in that span and rank near the bottom of the league at
103.1 per game for the season.
Sacramento (17-30) is 1-2 on a six-game road trip after falling
99-81 at Boston on Wednesday. Tyreke Evans had 19 points and 11
rebounds but also committed four of the Kings’ 19 turnovers, about
their average (18.6) in the last five games.
“We were lackadaisical,” said rookie Thomas Robinson, who scored
11 points off the bench.
Philadelphia has been outrebounded in six of its last seven
games, though it seemingly has a good opportunity to win that
battle against a Sacramento team that ranks among the league’s
worst with a minus-3.5 rebound differential per game.
“We’re as good as our big men play,” Collins said. “When they
play well, we can play with most every team. People are going to
try and attack us in the paint because without Andrew Bynum we’re a
Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, though, has averaged 10.5 points
and 5.0 rebounds over the last four games. He has no double-doubles
in that span after a stretch in which he posted six straight,
averaging 21.7 points and 13.3 boards.