Really, it was unavoidable. Not just the 114-102 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers -- although that looked like a loss back in September when the schedule was released -- but the hundreds (dare I say 'thousands'?) of Laker fans that filled the Wachovia Center with energy. The final tally on attendance was 19,119. But it didn't feel like an arena dedicated to helping the 76ers beat the Lakers. It felt like an arena hoping to watch some Kobe Bryant magic.
Most of them were wearing Bryant jerseys. Again, unavoidable, considering Bryant might be the best player in the NBA. And considering he is from Lower Merion.
I understand people get fired up about Kobe here. So please feel free to post the standard "Kobe isn't from Philly, he's from Lower Merion" comments. But for everyone else, let's move on to the Sixers.
Let's not post too long because, really, we're just rehashing a lot of the same issues. But a couple of thoughts.
1.) Andre Miller shooting 21 shots tonight ... after shooting 26 against the Bulls. Hmmmm. Okay. Let's think about this. Throughout his career, Miller hasn't been a shoot-first point guard. So what's happening? I talked to him before last night's game. Here is my thinking: Because he hasn't been shooting particularly well, and because he isn't known for shooting, the defense is sliding under the screen and limiting his ability to penetrate. Basically giving him the 15-footer and cutting off the drive to the basket. If Miller ever wants to open that lane again, he has to prove he is going to score. He has to make the defender slide over the top of the screen to take away that shot. If he can score consistently (there is that word again), as the season progresses I really think we will see him back to his 9-10 shots a night and eight assists.
2.) Ed Stefanski before the game. Basically this session was to reassure the Philly faithful that the 8-10 (now 8-11) start is, "obviously", not what the organization had in mind. But it's not shocking, either. Of note, Stefanski said he would make the Brand deal again in a "New York second", which is even faster than a New York Minute. He also said he is always on the phone with other teams making sure he knows what is available. He said Andre Iguodala hasn't played his best basketball yet, but the team "asked a lot of him" to move to shooting guard. My feeling from this meeting: The wheels are churning, but nothing is heading down the pipe just yet.
3.) Elton Brand ... three points, 1 for 7 from the floor, a strained right hamstring. The official word coming from the Sixers camp is that Brand's hamstring tightened "midway through the fourth quarter," but Brand was not in the game beginning at the 4:49 mark of the third quarter. So either the hamstring tightened on the bench, or they're a quarter off in their assessment. After the game, Brand saw the Sixers doctor. Brand will be re-evaluated on Thursday. It's unclear whether this injury will affect Brand for Friday's game against the Pistons. We should know more by about Thursday mid-day.
Quickly: Thaddeus Young scored 17 points. He had only four points against the Bulls on Tuesday night. I do recall saying at the end of my last blog that Young's struggles against the Bulls (1 for 9) worried me not at all. (Yes, I like to point out when I'm right and ignore when I'm wrong.) He did bank in a 3-pointer tonight against the Lakers. Samuel Dalembert scored 11 points and had eight rebounds, much improved numbers over his zero-point, zero-shot performance against the Bulls. But I don't think we have seen the end of his struggles.
Plenty to talk about tomorrow with Friday's trip to Detroit, and, um, uh, yeah, Allen Iverson ...