After tonight's 124-103 loss to the Detroit Pistons, 76ers coach Eddie Jordan did not claim his team played well, or played with energy. He said it was a bad performance, plain and simple.
On that count, Jordan offered some actual analysis from the game, analysis that actually reflected the game. But on another count, he called out a couple of his players that didn't seem to have played particularly poorly, and certainly didn't play very much. We've said on this blog for the last two months that Jordan has lost this team.
Tonight, asked straightforwardly if Jordan has lost this team, on the record, center Samuel Dalembert said, "I don't know, you should ask him."
Jordan benched Dalembert and power forward Elton Brand, playing them each only 12 minutes. It did not outwardly appear that either was playing particularly poorly: They finished with a combined 10 points, 6 rebounds. Obviously, it makes sense that with only a handful of games left in the season, Jordan would want to (or be forced to) play some younger guys like Jodie Meeks, Jason Smith, and Marreese Speights. That's what he did tonight. What doesn't make sense is Jordan then going into the post-game press conference and saying of Brand and Dalembert, "I wasn’t happy with their play … that’s flat out ... Defensive energy, mostly, awareness, sense of urgency, that sort of thing. We had planned to cut back on some minutes ..."
Apparently, Jordan did not tell Dalembert or Brand he was planning to hang them out to dry because in the locker room afterwards, neither had heard a word of Jordan's feelings. Brand has had a little more practice at this type of thing this season, so his reaction was relatively emotion-less.
"Personally, I just think it might have been premeditated already," Brand said. "He knew he was going to sub and play some other guys. And it didn’t work. We lost by 20."
Dalembert seemed more irritated.
"Let him be," Dalembert said of Jordan. "Let him keep pointing. He’s the coach, he’s the boss, what am I going to say? He’s not happy, then he’s not happy. I’m out there trying hard ... If my leash is so short and every time I make one mistake, or two, and then I’m out of the game, then that’s what it’s going to be ... Nothing makes sense to me. I was hustling out there. I start the game. It’s not my fault if we couldn’t score. I’m not going to go out there and play defense for everybody else. It’s been the whole thing throughout the year, I wish he could have done that with everybody, if you know what I’m saying."
Jordan concluded his press conference by saying the following:
"We mentioned that, 'We gave you a shoot around off, gave you a day off,'" Jordan said of Sunday's off day and today's lack of shoot around. "And we should come with a lot of energy and that’s going to work two ways: You’re either going to come with energy, or you have one foot at the pool or on the golf course."
Then Jordan said: "."
And that was the end of the press conference.