NEW ORLEANS – Lavoy Allen returns to the starting lineup Wednesday night when the Sixers attempt to even their record against the New Orleans Hornets.
Without swingman Jason Richardson (ankle) and center Kwame Brown (calf), not to mention the continued absence of center Andrew Bynum (knees), the Sixers will be both short and short-handed for the game against the Hornets, but will be facing a team missing some pieces as well.
For the second straight game, the Hornets will be playing without No. 1 draft pick Anthony Davis, who suffered a mild concussion against the Utah Jazz last week, sat out a Hornets game in Chicago on Saturday and has not been cleared by the NBA procedures for returning to action. The Hornets will also be without guard Eric Gordon, who has a sore left knee, and guard Austin River, who has a sprained left index finger.
Against a team like New Orleans that is not nearly as physical on the front line without Davis, it is likely that Allen would have been back in the starting lineup anyway. Collins went with Brown on Monday against New York, trying to offset a size disadvantage, but that experiment lasted just 10 minutes, 50 seconds before Brown reaggravated a calf injury that has been bothering him since training camp.
Regardless of which players are on the floor, the Sixers need better shooting. Dorell Wright, who started Monday in place of Richardson, is shooting 32.4 percent from the floor, Nick Young 26.5 percent and Evan Turner 28.0 percent. Point guard Jrue Holiday is keeping the team going from the outside, making 53 percent of his three-point shots.
Collins wants the team to run more, getting easier shots on transition, if possible, but that all starts on the defensive end, and the Sixers need to improve there, too.
“We’ve got to defend. If teams shoot 46, 47 percent against us, we’re not going to be able to get our game into the open floor,” Collins said after morning shootaround on Wednesday. “When we do, there can be no indecision off of missed field goals (by the opponent). That ball should be pushed on every occasion, and we shouldn’t be looking to run any set offense. Our guys were starting to get into worrying about what play we were running. We’ve got to get the ball downcourt.”
Collins said Brown was definitely out for Friday’s game in Boston and that Richardson was unlikely to be ready for that game as well. There was no official update on Bynum’s activity level or any speculation on when he might be able to play this season.
New Orleans will get its center back much sooner, and the Sixers were fortunate not to face Anthony Davis on Wednesay. The 6-foot-10 Davis has already been an impressive force in the frontcourt, but New Orleans was still able to beat the Bulls without him on Saturday to improve their record to 2-1. Forward Ryan Anderson stepped into the starting lineup for the Hornets and recorded 16 points and 7 rebounds against the Bulls. Thad Young will probably be matched up against Anderson on Wednesday night.