Young gives Sixers a Nick-start

YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER The Sixers are 3-1 since Nick Young was made a starter.
YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER The Sixers are 3-1 since Nick Young was made a starter.
Posted: February 05, 2013

WHO WOULD have seen this coming? And can it last?

Nick Young was inserted into the 76ers' starting lineup by coach Doug Collins four games ago. It seemed a move primarily necessitated by the lack of offense by the starting unit in the couple of weeks before Young's promotion.

But now Young is averaging 36 minutes a game, which means he is in there when defense is needed as well as offense. That was evident in Friday's 89-80 win over Sacramento, when the Sixers blew a 19-point lead and found themselves trailing by 73-72.

Needing defensive stops as much as offense, Collins kept Young out on the floor and he was one of the reasons the Kings went a little more than 9 minutes without a field goal. The Sixers outscored them by 17-7 the rest of the game and won their second consecutive game for the first time since November.

"They fought back hard and we made a lot of mental mistakes at one point," said Young, who finished with 20 points. "They had that confidence and just got rolling. We played down to their level, turning the ball over and being lackadaisical. We had to pick it up, and the fourth quarter we came in and tried our best to bring our energy back."

That is one of the reasons Collins has put Young in with the starters. His style of play, love it or loathe it, does bring an energy that is contagious to his teammates. It also helps that he has averaged 17.8 points per game in his recent starts and that the team has gone 3-1 and averaged 94.5 points.

Even more important is that the Sixers have gotten off to solid starts in the first quarter and been in the position of warding off opponents' comeback attempts as opposed to having to come back themselves. Physically, it is much easier to hold off a comeback than having to make one, especially as often as the Sixers had found themselves in comeback mode before Young and Spencer Hawes became starters.

"We are just coming out with all kinds of energy," Young said. "We've been hearing about that [slow starts] every day from the coaching staff, fans and everybody had been talking about how we start off slow.

"We made that one of our priorities. The thing now is that when we get up we have to keep the lead."

And when they do that, good things happen, like winning consecutive games.

"That's always a positive," Young said of the two-game streak. "A win's a win and doing this hopefully is something we can do more of in the future.

"Again, we just have to keep the good play going from the beginning of the game. We find ourselves getting lax a little bit. Sometimes the game comes too easy [at the beginning] and then you start missing shots. The next thing you know, they are back in the game."

Young is right - a win is a win - but it would probably do a lot of good for the Sixers and their coach if they could hold on to the big, early leads they've been building.

"Nothing is ever easy, I will tell you that," Collins said. "Two in a row, finally, which is good."

And with four more consecutive home games on the schedule, starting Monday with the Orlando Magic, and a starting lineup that is now producing positive play, perhaps a bit of a longer winning streak is on the horizon.

Six shots

The team did not practice Sunday. The latest word on Jason Richardson (left knee) is that he was visiting his doctor in Colorado . . . Andrew Bynum is scheduled to speak to the media on Monday before the Orlando game . . . Indiana will visit on Wednesday, followed by Charlotte on Saturday and the Clippers on Monday.

On Twitter: @BobCooney76


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