76ers head coach Doug Collins' plea to players: 'Compete'

Posted: January 25, 2013

THERE WAS NO mistaking the tone in Doug Collins' voice after his team dropped a 110-102 decision Tuesday to the Bucks in Milwaukee. Each time a question was asked, Collins' tone rose, until he was almost shouting answers to the questioning media.

The frustration was mounting early as the 76ers again got off to a slow start, culminated by three missed shots by Lavoy Allen. Throw in a turnover by Allen, who, after grabbing an offensive rebound under the basket, inexplicably tried to throw the ball out to the top of the key, where it was picked off by Brandon Jennings who turned it into a layup. The Sixers missed 15 of their first 20 shots, fell behind at the end of the first by 28-18 and once again had to use all of their energy just to try and get back into the game, with little left to overcome the Bucks, ultimately falling to their 25th loss in 42 games.

In the first quarter of the last four games the Sixers have given up an alarming 29 points on average on 63.8 percent shooting. That's right, opponents have made 51 of their 80 first quarter shots in the past four games. It's of little wonder that the Sixers lost three of those four. In fact, had in not been for an improbable comeback from a 19-point deficit against the lowly, depleted Toronto Raptors, all those games would have been put in the loss column.

"Guys know what they're supposed to do," said Collins after Tuesday's loss. "Be it Phil Jackson or whoever you want to be the coach it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. Compete."

His words were as much a plea to his players as an analysis. At some point Xs and Os give way to just effort and basketball smarts and finding the will to do something that you don't normally do to lend to a win. Right now that isn't happening, especially in the first quarter.

As upset as he was after Tuesday's loss, Collins was just as demonstrative in his praise of Nick Young. Just three games after not getting any playing time, Young scored 20 points, had the night's most impressive play with a powerful driving dunk, and seemed as focused as he has all season. His defense is still very much suspect, but expect to see plenty of Young on the court when the Sixers host the next eight games they play.

"The work we're putting in with Nick Young, that kid is becoming a player," said Collins. "That's exciting for me, that's exciting. That Nick Young took a DNP and has busted his tail and put together three terrific games and I'm so proud of him. He's wanting to learn how to become a good basketball player, just not an act on the side, 'Swaggy P.'

"It wasn't necessarily that I was trying to send a message to Swaggy. It was a particular night we just went a certain way and I played Smoke [Royal Ivey] and Damien [Wilkins] because we were going to have to guard. Nick, I'm so proud of him, I'm really proud of that young guy. He really wants to be a good player."

As much as he was praising Young, you couldn't help but feel those words were a message to his other players.

All-Star impact

Tuesday may have been a big night for Jrue Holiday as far as making the All-Star team, but it may not have worked in his favor.

Holiday is looking to get in via coaches vote, which were handed in Wednesday and will be announced Thursday. It appears he is in competition for a backcourt spot with Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings and Cleveland's Kyrie Irving.

Holiday and Jennings went head-to-head on Tuesday, and Holiday had one of his lesser performances of the season when he collected just nine points and turned the ball over eight times, though he did deal 12 assists.

Jennings scored 25 points, dealt seven assists and had three steals. Meanwhile, Irving poured in 40 points in a win over the visiting Boston Celtics.

Six shots

The Sixers had off Wednesday. They will host the New York Knicks on Saturday and the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday . . . Jason Richardson, who stayed in Philadelphia with fluid on his left knee, is day-to-day . . . The next road game is Feb. 13 in Milwaukee. That is the last game before the All-Star break.

On Twitter: @BobCooney76

Blog: philly.com/Sixerville

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