Here's the latest from the Air Canada Centre where the 76ers played the Toronto Raptors at noon today.
1.) The Sixers started a lineup of Jrue Holiday, Lou Williams, Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, and Elton Brand. Usual starting center Samuel Dalembert was out of the lineup for disciplinary reasons. Sixers announced the move after Eddie Jordan's pre-game availability, so specifics about the reason for Dalembert's benching will be asked of Jordan sometime after the game. We do know that the Sixers had a team meeting this morning at 8 a.m., but no word on whether that had anything to do with Dalembert's status. Update: Dalembert was penalized for arriving late to this morning's 8 a.m. meeting. Dalembert said he awoke at 6:30 a.m., but then forgot to re-set his alarm and fell asleep again. Dalembert said he was about 10 minutes late to the meeting. Jordan said the benching would only last that one game, he would return Dalembert to the starting lineup on Tuesday against the Indiana Pacers.
Before today's game, spoke with former Sixer forward Reggie Evans, who was traded to the Toronto Raptors for shooter Jason Kapono this past summer. Here's what Evans said about all things Sixers ... from why the team was good after the All-Star break in the past two seasons, about the leadership while he was there, etc ...
"We just had a great leadership, good work ethic, even with me and Andre Miller there, I thought we were a big help to the team," Evans said. "Now they have a lot of new faces there with the coaching staff and even some of the players. Things just look different over there now, players are so offensive minded, there’s no defensive discipline. When were there, an Andre Miller would be like, ‘OK, Iguodala, you haven’t had the ball, I’m going to give you the ball.’ Or, 'Reggie, you’ve been working too hard, I’m going to give you one of these balls.’ It was a balance out there with defense and offense. We stayed focused, we stayed poised. We never got too high, we never got too low. We had faith and stuff like that.
"I can’t really say too much about there team now, I don’t know," Evans continued. "From a friendship standpoint, knowing those are my homeboys and stuff, and knowing we had a good on-the-court, off-the-court, it’s kind of like, ‘Damn ... what the hell they got going there?’ But it’s different, they gotta learn a whole new system, a whole new coaching staff and everything is different there now."
On leadership (which Jordan has questioned all season and especially recently) ...
"We had all kind of different leaders," Evans said. "We had Andre Miller, he was more lead by example whereas he didn’t say anything, but he’ll say things on the court, put everybody in different places on the court. Me? I’m more vocal. Iguodala, he was really vocal. But, really, I think Andre Miller had to be the head leader and stuff like that. You had Willie Green, he was the peace maker, as in, keep your cool, never get rattled. You had different forms of leader you could talk to: Here come Willie Green talking to me saying, ‘Don’t worry, it’s all good.’”
"Andre Iguodala, he was, um, he was a pretty good leader; yeah, he was cool," explained Evans. "One thing about Iguodala was he played hard. You had to listen to a guy who worked hard to get where he at. He was a good on-court leader, especially playing defense; he was not selfish at all, which is good. He’s very unselfish. He don’t get caught up, ‘Oh, I’m the man.”
Also spoke with Kapono before today's game. He hasn't played much since December. Here's how that went.
Does shot feel OK?
"I feel good, it’s just as a rhythm and feel player, it’s just been tough on me from a physical standpoint and a mental standpoint and to go in the game – obviously I haven’t played that much here in the last 30, 40 games – so it’s tough," Kapono said. "It’s been hard to kind of get in a rhythm and capitalize on the one or two shots. I’m working on it, it’s a work in progress."
"I felt good at the start of the year, I was shoting the ball well up until mid-December, and that’s when I started to struggle," continued Kapono. "That’s kind of when I had a tough time getting in the top 8 or 9 in the rotation. I don’t know if it has something to do with it, but it’s definitely more of a challenge."
Toughest stretch of career?
"This has been the toughest stretch for me personally since my first year," Kapono said. "Just, basically, not really playing on a consistent level … it’s a challenge, but it’s the NBA. Sometimes it may not be fair, you may not think it’s right, but it is what it is and you show up to practice every day, get your work done, and hope for the best."
Was he told he'd be out of the rotation?
"We signed Allen in mid-December so obviously he comes in starting, playing 35 minutes a game so that moves Willie to the bench and then Lou and Thad and then you have 1, 2, 3 there coming off smalls and mid-sizes," Kapono said. "That’s how the league is, it may not be because of you, but you just may be the odd man out. That’s kind of where I’ve been here the last couple of months. Fair or unfair, I’m a professional, I’m never going to say anything. I still come to work and I want to play, and I’m ready."