Bob Cooney: Young Sixers holding it together with Iguodala out

Strained Achilles' has sidelined Andre Iguodala the last 2 games.
Strained Achilles' has sidelined Andre Iguodala the last 2 games.
Posted: November 12, 2010

Andre Iguodala has missed the past 2 1/2 games with a strained right Achilles' tendon.

Did anyone notice? Is this team just so interchangeable that even its best player missing time doesn't change the look of it?

When Iguodala stayed in the locker room for the second half of last Friday's eventual loss to Cleveland, the 76ers trailed by nine points and had given up 61.

When the third quarter was completed, the Sixers were ahead by five and seemed poised to pick up their second win of the season.

In that third quarter, with Iguodala, their defensive stopper, in the locker room getting his ankle checked, they allowed just 18 points to the Cavs.

It sort of made you scratch your head a little bit. Then, in the fourth, they gave up 44 points and allowed the Cavs to score on 14 of 15 possessions at one point. You had to figure that if the player who coach Doug Collins hopes to be the best defender at his position was in the game, that wouldn't have happened.

Then, Sunday, in New York, the Sixers put together a terrific all-around game, holding the hot-shooting Knicks to very limited success from the field (40 percent) and using a balanced offensive attack in pulling out a 10-point win.

Again, head scratching.

Wednesday, in Oklahoma City, Collins' club got down by 14 late in the third quarter before making a valiant comeback in the fourth to cut the deficit to three a couple of times before some defensive lapses did them in.

Had Iguodala been ready to play, he certainly would have been assigned to blanket megastar Kevin Durant. Though Durant did pour in 31 points, he shot just 7-for-18 from the floor. Collins started Andres Nocioni on Durant, then threw anyone and anything at the league's leading scorer.

The Sixers dropped a 109-103 decision, and the thought after the game was, "Could Iguodala have made a difference?"

One thing that seems noticeable during Iguodala's absence - rookie Evan Turner and second-year guard Jrue Holiday seem to play with more freedom. That would appear to be a good thing, though each has had some turnover problems in Iguodala's absence.

I've stated before that I think Iguodala could be moved before the season ends. But if you think about it, what's the hurry? As we've seen numerous times through the years, when teams are doing better than expected during a season, they will make a deal to try to get even better, with championship thoughts dancing around in their heads. Iguodala might be the most coveted "piece" a good team would like to land. And perhaps they just might overpay for him, i.e. expiring contract(s).

And at times the past few games, the team has showed that playing without him really doesn't cause that big of a stir.

Collins better

It's been just more than a week since Collins had to leave the team's first win at halftime because of symptoms related to vertigo. Colllins has changed his approach to treating his headaches and dizziness, and says he hasn't felt this good since suffering a concussion on Memorial Day, when he passed out and fell at a Starbucks in Phoenix.

"I feel great," Collins said, even though he is in the middle of a somewhat lengthy road trip. "I think for the first time I've attacked the cause rather than treat the symptoms. I am going through rehab at Penn. We work on putting my head in different positions and focusing my eyes on certain points. The whole process is to try to get the ear crystals back where they belong. Apparently, that's what causes the loss in equilibrium."

Collins suffers from low blood pressure, and that's what caused him to pass out in Phoenix. Treating the concussion he suffered was done with rest and relaxation during the summer, something he can't afford now.

"During the summer, I knew what bothered me and what didn't, so I could handle it," Collins said. "Now, with working so many hours, it's different, so we had to take a course of action."

Originally, Collins was taking medication, but now is sticking with just the rehab.

"I don't worry about it at all anymore," he said.

Which is a good thing. He has enough concerns trying to right his team.

Line of the week

As I got into a cab at the Oklahoma City airport, I asked the driver how things were there. His response was a classic: "All the same. It still takes us an hour-and-a-half to watch '60 Minutes.' "

Injury updates

Andre Iguodala practiced yesterday with the team and probably will be back tonight in Dallas. Lou Williams is listed as day-to-day after separating his left shoulder on a drive to the basket on Wednesday night.

Also . . .

Forward Andres Nocioni was fined $25,000 by the league for throwing his mouthpiece into the stands in the first quarter of Wednesday's game. Nocioni had just been called for his second foul and heaved the mouthpiece as he headed for the bench . . . Jason Kapono rejoined the team yesterday in Dallas after missing 3 days due to personal reasons.

UPCOMING GAMES

Tonight at Dallas, 8:30

Comcast SportsNet/WIP (610-AM)

The skinny: The first of the Texas two-step trip. The Sixers have lost five straight and seven of eight when visiting the Mavericks. Point guard Jason Kidd had an interesting line in a win over the Celtics earlier this week, posting 10 assists and no points in 34 minutes.

Tomorrow at San Antonio, 8:30

Comcast Network/WPHT (1210-AM)

The skinny: Somehow Tim Duncan and Tony Parker just keep getting it done. Reserve guard Gary Neal is averaging 6.7 points this season for the Spurs. Neal played two seasons at La Salle before transferring to Towson.

Tuesday at Cleveland, 7

Comcast SportsNet/WPHT (1210-AM)

The skinny: It is pretty amazing how hard (and well) coach Byron Scott has his Cavaliers playing after the whole summer fiasco with LeBron James. They are actually a pretty fun team to watch - emphasis on team.

Wednesday vs Toronto, 7

Comcast SportsNet/WIP (610-AM)

The skinny: The Raptors have lost all six games in the month of November. They have been very close in most of their games this season, but haven't been able to pull out wins in the end. Sound like a certain local team?

By the numbers

30.7: That's the percentage opponents are shooting against the Sixers this season from three-point range. That is much better so far than the league-worst 39.3 percent they allowed last season.

108.2: That's how many points the Sixers have averaged their past five games.

103.8: That's how many points the Sixers have allowed in their past five games.

2-3: That's the Sixers' record their past five games.

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