Are the Sixers in Uh-Oh stage?

The Sixers lost to the Utah Jazz Monday, 112-107, in overtime. On the surface, that doesn't seem all that bad. After all, it was the first time since mid-January that they've lost two in a row.

However, there seems to be many reasons for concern. Andre Iguodala, who played a terrific fourth quarter during which he scored 14 of his 23 points, was on the trainer's table after the game, getting treatment on his right knee. The Sixers announced after the game that he was suffering from chondromalacia in the knee, which is more commonly known as runner's knee. The way to recover from it is plenty of rest, according to what I looked up. With just 15 games remaining before the season ends, that's just not a luxury the Sixers or Iguodala has.

Also, despite scoring 19 points against Utah, forward Elton Brand appears to be very bothered by injuries to both his hands. He has twice dislocated his right pinkie and last week against Oklahoma City he banged the back of his left hand. His left hand has been noticably swollen since, and Brand was wearing a protective pad on the hand to begin Monday's game. In the first half, however, Brand removed the splint from his pinkie and the padding from the back of his other hand in frustration and played without them the rest of the way.

Point guard Jrue Holiday also struggled with his play against Utah, scoring just four points and dealing three assists. Holiday also committed some key turnovers and was replaced for much of the overtime by Lou Williams.

The first half, when the Sixers fell behind by 60-42 and trailed by as many as 21, had the feel of the team that started the season 3-13. There was no resemblance to the team that had played so well for the past couple of months.

The second half was refreshing for coach Doug Collins in the fact that his team played hard, competed, came so close to pulling out an improbable win. That's a good sign as the team has four more games to close out this road trip, starting Wednesday against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Whether that second half surge wiped away the horrible first half will be seen. Or are the injuries and poor play going to continue.

Wednesday's game against the Clippers just became a whole lot more important. The Sixers need to at least win two of these next four games, otherwise it could turn out to be a rough end of the season.


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