Elton Brand came out of the 76ers' Dec. 3 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in the third quarter with a strained right hamstring. But, listening to him Saturday night, that isn't necessarily when he was injured. That was just when it got worse.
''It happened a few games ago, and has been an ongoing thing,'' Brand said after sitting out two games, including the 95-84 loss to the New Jersey Nets. ''Everybody in the NBA has something going on. I tried to play through it.''
There is a school of thought that says, if these had been playoff games, Brand could have--and would have--played. But it makes perfect sense to be cautious at this stage of the season, particularly because he is already coming back from surgery to repair a ruptured left Achilles tendon.
He believes he will be back to face the Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday night.
''I do--I don't know what they're (the Sixers' medical staff) are going to say, but I do,'' he said. ''I've played through much worse stuff.''
Speaking of other stuff . . .
1) The Sixers--and anyone who happened to be in the Wachovia Center Saturday night--had to be impressed with the Nets' Devin Harris, who had 27 points, 8 assists and 4 steals.
''I think they just unleashed the chains,'' Sixers guard Willie Green said. ''He's playing with confidence. Any time you can take any shot and you don't have to look back at thge bench or anything like that, the sky's the limit. He's playing All-Star basketball right now. He's carrying the team . . . Tehy're giving him the basketball and saying 'Stop us if you can.''
2.) Green viewed the loss to the Nets as particularly key, ''especially when coming up is Cleveland (at home), Cleveland (on the road Friday night).''
''We don't want to put our heads down; we don't want to put our tail between our legs,'' Green said. ''We've got to keep fighting.''
3.) Lou Williams seems to be regaining the form the Sixers hoped to see from the start. He had 16 points against the Pistons and came back with 13 against the Nets.
''One of the best things I've done is completely wipe away the fact that I haven't been making shots,'' he said. "I kind of forgot about it, just alloweing the game to come to me, whatever opportunities . . . just staying patient, not forcing. I realize it's a long season, that I'm not going to get everything back in one game.''
4.) It was almost funny watching Donyell Marshall realize that he was actually going into the game late in the third period Friday night. He hadn't played in the previous nine games. He hadn't been on the active roster for seven of those.
''If you really ever noticed, in timeouts when coach (IMaurice Cheeks) gets in the huddle, I'm pretty much looking around,'' Marshall said. ''When he called my name, I thought somebody else called my name. I looked around and (Cheeks) said 'What? You're in the game.'''
Marshall has been grateful for the way Cheeks has dealt with him as a veteran, not using him for the first time--particularly when the team has been behind--in the fourth quarter. But in this case, assistant coach Aaron McKie quietly told him to 'stay ready.'''
''I don't know whether Aaron knew something or not, but as soon as he said that I started stretching a little,'' Marshall said. ''We needed a spark, something different, and that's what happened . . . I think Mo just wanted me out there to change the style.''