Sixers' Collins stays focused on positive

Posted: April 07, 2012

As grim and as bleak as the situation surrounding the 76ers has become, coach Doug Collins still refuses to look at the negative without weighing in with something positive.

"If we had won that game with Washington," Collins said of a 20-point loss last Friday, "we'd still be in first place in the Atlantic Division. It's funny how you win two in a row and all of a sudden there's joy in Mudville."

While this is true, Collins usually prefers to look at the big picture, and right now looking at the Sixers through a wide-angle lens doesn't reveal a pretty view. The Sixers (29-25) have won just four of their last 12 games. This includes a pair of 21-point blowout losses to lowly Washington and Toronto teams in the span of five games that drew attention to their shortcomings.

The most obvious is their inability to score, but perhaps more alarming now is their inability to play defense.

In their last four losses, the Sixers have given up an average of 97 points per game. On the season they are giving up just 88.2 points.

"Sometimes when it rains it pours," second-year guard Evan Turner said after a spirited practice Friday at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. "We have to focus on things that we can control. There are certain situations that you can control and certain situations that you can't, and they can lead to good and bad times."

Until last week, the Sixers had been in first place in the Atlantic Division for almost all of 2012. Boston, whom they play on Sunday, and against whom they still hold the tie-breaker advantage, took over first place the night the Sixers fell to Washington. In the process, the Sixers fell all the way to the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference and remain there.

Going into Friday's games, the Sixers were just 11/2 games ahead of eighth seed New York. Milwaukee trailed New York by just 11/2 games.

The Sixers' recent travails have prompted speculation about whether the 76ers have tuned Collins out.

"That's just the way it is," Collins said, laughing at the suggestion. "When you are in this business you understand that and you don't get sidetracked. You do your job and you don't worry about anybody else."

As gloomy as the Sixers' predicament is, it is nothing compared with that of Saturday's foe, Orlando (32-23). On Thursday Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said that superstar center Dwight Howard wanted him fired. Not long after he said that, Howard walked up to an uncomfortable-looking Van Gundy and put his right arm around his shoulder. The coach quickly left the session with reporters as Howard fielded questions.

"The thing about this business is there is a feeling of camaraderie that coaches have because of all the demands you go through," Collins said. "We know as coaches that when you hit rough waters you become the dart board. That's just the way it is."

Contact staff writer John N. Mitchell at Follow him on Twitter @JmitchellInquirer.

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