Williams knows right combination to help Sixers

Posted: March 23, 2009

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - There are times - admittedly, not as many as 76ers fans would like - when Lou Williams looks a little like Allen Iverson, and not just because, at 6-1 and 175 pounds, he has the same scrawny, bag-of-bones physique.

There also are times when Williams, whom the Sixers drafted straight out of South Gwinnett (Ga.) High in 2005, can do a passable imitation of Andre Miller or at least Eric Snow.

But, in his fourth NBA season, Williams is neither a 1 (point guard) or a 2 (shooting guard). He switches from role to role as needed, making him an invaluable handyman off the bench. His specialty is . . . well, he really doesn't have one. And that's all right with him so long as the Sixers are winning and he continues to improve.

"I'm a combo guard," Williams said before the Sixers' game against the Sacramento Kings at ARCO Arena. "I can play either position. If Andre's in there, I play the 2. If he's not in there, I can play the 1. Whatever it takes."

If his performance so far on this five-game Western road trip is any indication, Williams is proving that there is merit to being a jack of all trades. After last night's 112-100 victory over the Kings, he has 77 points in the four road games and, perhaps even more signficantly, 20 assists against only three turnovers, with the swan song to the West Coast tonight at Portland. As the Sixers rolled over Sacramento, Williams had 18 points in 24 minutes on 6-for-9 shooting, with five assists and one turnover.

Sixers coach Tony DiLeo has stressed protecting the ball, not always an easy task for a team that likes to push the pace. But his team has had fewer turnovers than opponents in seven of the past eight games, the only exclusion being that abominable loss at Oklahoma City on March 8.

Although he's no longer the wide-eyed high school kid he was when he arrived in Philly, people sometimes forget that Williams is still only 22 and learning as he goes. He can be a jumble of contradictions at times, but when he's at or near the top of his game, he can do a lot of things, and well.

DiLeo is hoping Williams' recent run of strong play is an indication he will be able to put up strong numbers for the remainder of the season and into the future.

"Don't forget, he also gets to the foul line a lot," DiLeo said of Williams. "He's been playing at a high level on this trip and, hopefully, that will continue. He just has to stay aggressive on the floor. That's what we want and what we expect from him.

"In one game [Friday's 119-111 loss at Golden State] he had 20 points, six rebounds, five steals, six assists . . . He's doing a lot of things to help us other than shooting the ball and scoring."

Miller said the key to Williams producing like that on a more consistent basis is "being aggressive. Lou comes off the bench and makes plays. That's what he does. And the more plays he makes, the higher his confidence will rise."

Williams said he is not satisfied with posting good individual numbers. "We're still just 1-2 on this trip [before last night]," Williams said. "That's not good enough. I think I'm playing all right, but I really believe I can take it to another level. That's my opinion, anyway."

Six shot

Only their 121-94 rout of the Knicks Friday night kept the Kings from ignominious history. After falling to the Sixers, Sacramento finished 1-29 against Eastern Conference teams; no NBA team has ever gone winless against the opposing conference in a season. *

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