Sixers looking for a little pep after bad loss to start five-game road trip

Jrue Holiday goes for two in Milwaukee, first of five-game road trip.
Jrue Holiday goes for two in Milwaukee, first of five-game road trip.
Posted: March 14, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY - What happened?

That certainly seems to be the question surrounding the 76ers after Saturday night's 102-74 loss in Milwaukee. What's baffling is how this loss happened, particularly a night after such an encouraging win over the visiting Boston Celtics.

Well, perhaps that's part of the reason. The Sixers used a ton of energy in grabbing Friday's 89-86 victory over the conference leaders, then had to board a plane to play in Milwaukee the next evening. The Milwaukee game also was the fourth game for the team in 5 nights, a span that saw them go 2-2 with wins over Indiana and Boston and losses to Oklahoma City and Milwaukee.

So it could be a write-off. Call it one of those "schedule" games, as coach Doug Collins did following the loss. That could very well be the case.

There are some signs, though, that the team is starting to hit a little bit of a low spot that every team goes through a few times during the season.

Power forward and team leader Elton Brand has been struggling of late, averaging under 11 points in his past five games. Coincidentally, Brand has been dealing with a dislocated right pinkie on his shooting hand and now is wearing a pad on the back of his left hand to protect an area that he banged in Wednesday's game against Oklahoma City. The injuries appear to be more nuisances than debilitating, but they are worth keeping an eye on.

Also, sub forward Thaddeus Young, who has been the key spark off the bench for much of the season, has seemed to hit a bit of a wall lately. Young has appeared a step slower than his normal self and has made just six of his last 24 shots from the floor. Collins had talked of being worried about how many minutes he had been using Young, and it appears his concerns are legitimate.

The Sixers, who have been leading the league in the least amount of turnovers a game at around 13, have given the ball up 36 times in the last two losses.

All of the struggles could be directly related to the fact that the team has played four games in the past 5 days. Or maybe they are in a lull that many teams hit during the season.

That is where good teams, though, are able to pull themselves through. It just so happens the Sixers have four more consecutive road games in which they'll have to do that.

Tonight they will face the struggling Utah Jazz before heading to Los Angeles to play the Clippers on Wednesday, then to Sacramento and Portland to finish out the road trip on Friday and Saturday.

By the numbers

Here are some interesting numbers from the Sixers.

* Andre Iguodala has attempted just five free throws in the past four games.

* Center Spencer Hawes has made 59.5 percent of his shots from the floor over the past 13 games.

* Shooting guard Jodie Meeks has scored in double figures in each of the past eight games, during which time he is averaging 13.8 points.

* The Sixers still lead the league in bench scoring with an average of 40 per game.

* A Sixers win over the Jazz tonight would give them a season sweep for the first time since 1987-88.

Six shots

Seven players took part in an optional practice yesterday. All five starters, Thaddeus Young and Lou Williams were given the day off to rest . . . The Jazz returns home after a four-game road trip during which they went 1-3 with losses by 22, 21 and 18. "I think we're disjointed right now," Jazz guard Raja Bell, a former Sixer, told the Salt Lake Tribune. "Things just are not clicking well. And from that standpoint, from the chemistry - offensively, defensively, energy - it's probably the worst we've played all year . . . It's pretty bad."

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