Sixers pick up on the late shifts

Andre Iguodala struts after a basket.
Andre Iguodala struts after a basket. (YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
Posted: January 10, 2012

A DISTURBING trend continued for the 76ers last night in their 96-86 against the Indiana Pacers. In the first 6 minutes, the Sixers missed six of their first eight shots. Through the first seven games combined, the team has made only 24 of 71 shots in the first 6 minutes of the game, only 33.8 percent.

"I don't know what it is, to be honest with you," coach Doug Collins said. "We seem to get open shot, to get good looks, but the shots don't fall for us early."

But they sure seem to fall as the game wears on. The Sixers entered the game fourth in the NBA field-goal percentage, shooting 47.2 percent. In the eight games played this season, the Sixers averaged 21 points in the first quarter and get better with each quarter, averaging 24.3 in the second, 26.5 in the third and 28.5 in the fourth.

Hawes a go

After playing a little less than 19 minutes in Saturday's blowout of the Toronto Raptors because of a strained back, center Spencer Hawes was back last night after a maintenance day on Sunday.

Hawes tweaked his back early in the Toronto game, and the pain just kept getting worse. Precaution and a blowout led to the Collins' decision to shut down his starting big man.

Hawes deemed himself fit yesterday morning.

"Feeling a lot better. Got a chance to do some treatment [Sunday] - massage, yoga - ran through the whole gamut, so I'm feeling better," Hawes said. "It was just one of those things where I started feeling it and you keep going on with the game, and it starts to feel worse and worse. It's a long season and it can come up on you quickly. Thankfully, we were in a game where I could come out and get a little more rest coming into this stretch that we have this week."

"I think it's good that we got him out of the game the other night where he didn't hurt it any more. He got a lot of good therapy on it after the game and [Sunday]," Collins said.

Hawes started and played his normal rotation, though he did sit a good portion of the first half after picking up his second foul in the middle of the second quarter.

Strange coincidences?

Last night, the Indiana Pacers were without leading scorer Danny Granger, as he was felled by a bout with food poisoning. It continued a strange trend of opponents missing games against the Sixers.

The Utah Jazz were without starting forward Al Jefferson when it was announced just before game time that he had sprained an ankle. Golden State's high-scoring guard Monta Ellis was unavailable the next night while attending his grandmother's funeral. In New Orleans a couple of days later, Hornets starting forward Trevor Ariza was sidelined with a groin injury. Two nights after that, the Detroit Pistons were shorthanded when two starters were out, as Ben Gordon attended to a personal matter and Rodney Stuckey was sidelined with a strained groin.

Then last night the Granger announcement came just before the game.

In a season that is compressing 66 dames into 123 days, strange things are sure to happen. This could be the first of many examples.

Tide rollers

A quick survey of about eight Sixers players before the game revealed that all of them thought Alabama would beat LSU last night in the BCS Championship Game. Many acknowledged that they planned to record the game and watch it later.

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