"Most of the game is the mental approach and the mental aspect," said forward Jason Kapono, who got his second straight start last night in the Sixers' 118-91 win over the New York Knicks. "I feel a lot of our problems and issues are that we'll play well in spurts and then, when we get hit with a punch and we lose a lead or a team scores eight or 10 points in a row, we fall back and revert to what we were last year. We kind of fall into that lull and then we have problems pushing through it. It's important for us to maintain that focus and to bond together and actually play harder during those times."
It hasn't happened much during this preseason, which ended last night with a 2-5 record. In Tuesday's game, president Rod Thorn sat three rows behind the bench and had his palms raised toward the sky more than a priest during a prayer session. His "what is going on" look was present for just about the whole second half.
With coach Doug Collins implementing new schemes, getting used to the personnel he has and trying to mold all that together before Wednesday's season-opener against Miami, some bumps in the road are to be expected.
"Basically, we're trying to get a development of the principles so that we can fight through the bad streaks," Kapono said. "We don't really have the principles and the experience to be able to fight through bad stretches yet. That's what we're trying to learn."
For the past two games, they've had to learn it without Collins, who stayed home last night because of symptoms related to a concussion suffered in May. Associate head coach Michael Curry again was running the team and is on board with Collins about how this team needs to improve.
"I think everything is a work in progress," Curry said. "They all have to understand that the offense won't dictate how we're going to play defense. We have to play defense every night to give ourselves a chance.
"It starts with Jrue [Holiday] on the ball. I think a lot of times when teams spread the court and we're concentrating and thinking about being in a help position, you really don't ever get there because we don't stop the ball. All our defense starts with ball pressure. We have to be a presence in the paint, whether it's blocking shots or taking charges. The games we've played and held the other team to pretty good numbers we've taken multiple charges in those games."
Coach Doug Collins had tests done Tuesday and yesterday and all that came back were clear. After today's off day, Collins hopes to rejoin the team for practice tomorrow morning. He left the team in Cincinnati on Tuesday to find out why he was still experiencing headaches and dizziness from a fall on Memorial Day.
"We expect him to be around bright and early on Friday morning," associate head coach Michael Curry said.
In the final exhibition game, in front of 6,473 at the Wells Fargo Center, not a whole lot was exhibited. The Knicks sat starters Amar'e Stoudemire, Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler. Sixers swingman Jason Kapono (20 points) scored 10 points in less than 2 minutes during a 21-3 run that lifted the Sixers to the win.
Andre Iguodala scored 20 and grabbed nine rebounds, Lou Williams added 18, Elton Brand had 16 and 11 rebounds, Thad Young chipped in 14 and Jrue Holiday collected 10 points and 11 assists.
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