Collins discovers right mix for Sixers win

Posted: November 19, 2012

GAMES ARE really like a search-and-rescue mission for 76ers coach Doug Collins. After he puts his starters out on the floor to begin the game, he is quickly searching for a combination throughout the contest that will rescue what is usually a poor beginning.

Sunday against the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers, Collins had to find a way to keep mercurial point guard Kyrie Irving in check while also limiting the play of quick big man Anderson Varejao Add to that Collins' team again not being able to find its shooting touch and you start to understand how difficult his mission is on some nights.

He was able to find the right solutions, however, and the Sixers were able to pull out an 86-79 win. The Sixers improved to 6-4, certainly a record another pro team in town would love to have after 10 games.

"It seems like it's been something all the time," Collins said. "I thought Lavoy [Allen] and Kwame [Brown] played very well the other night and today they didn't have any juice. For me, I'm going to go to the store and mix-and-match and try to pick up some things that match a little bit. On a particular night I pull a play out of my tail late in the game. Sometimes you just got to do that. That's what they pay me to do. But at the end of the day we got enough stops to beat them. We have got to be a bit smoother on the offensive end. We're making things way, way too hard on ourselves.

"I told our guys that their starting team is the fourth-leading scoring starting team in the NBA and they're No. 1 plus-minus. We could not allow their bench to come in and put them in a position to win the game."

Collins' bench was the one that provided the scoring with 34 points, including 14 from Spencer Hawes and 13 from Nick Young, who left in the second half due to dizziness. Evan Turner had a terrific all-around game with 19 points, nine assists and six rebounds and Jrue Holiday scored 14 points and dealt nine assists,while limiting Irving to nine points, nearly 16 below his average.

Never was Holiday's defense more impressive than late in the fourth quarter. With the Sixers clinging to a 77-73 advantage, Irving got an isolation play at the top of the key to the left of the basket where he crossed over repeatedly, tried stop-and-goes, went left, then right, then left. Holiday got deked out of his spot in front of Irving and the Duke product missed a forced runner to the left of the basket. Hawes then hit a 16-footer with 3 minutes remaining to give the Sixers a comfortable cushion.

Turner then had an assist on a Hawes three and scored on a turnaround as the Sixers sealed their second straight victory and sixth straight over the Cavaliers.

"We just competed and attacked when we could," said Turner, who set a career high in assists. "I've been here for 3 years, so that's just how we work. Each night [Collins] is going to go with something different and hopefully you're involved in that and one way that you are is to just go out and play hard from the get-go."

While the shooting struggled again (34-for-80, 42.5 percent), the defense was a constant again for the Sixers, who limited the Cavs to 35.7 percent shooting and forced 16 turnovers, much-needed statistics especially since Cleveland won the battle of the boards, 48-41.

"We did enough to win the game, and for that I'm incredibly grateful," Collins said. "First we have to guard the point of the ball and Jrue did a great job of that. He was not on his heels, he was aggressive. The reason we had Thad [Young] on Varejao was because Varejao is in so many pick-and-rolls on Kyrie and we wanted Thad's energy and quickness to help our guard. Our team defense was good."

Another mix-and-match game for Collins, whom many consider a master.

"We're a fairly new team, so [Collins] has to figure out what's working," said Jason Richardson, who finished with 12 points and nine rebounds, "like down the stretch and who to put in, in certain situations. Just having a new team and knowing who can do what is the big thing."

" @BobCooney76

Blog: philly.com/Sixerville

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