One Last preseason Game

Hello from East Rutherford, N.J. to the few of you who might not be mesmerized by the Phillies in the World Series.

I was always taught not to write about travel experiences, because you want to know about the team. But I'll share tonight's adventure on the off-chance any of you might have plans to come to a regular-season game in the Izod Center:

There is construction everywhere. There are cones blocking entrances to places you used to use to enter the parking lots. I was bound for Lot 26, where my name was on a media list. I stopped to ask a security person, just to be certain I knew where I was going. She reached for a set of papers and had to look it up before giving me directions, after which she thanked me.

"I'm so glad you asked,'' she said, laughing. ''Now, in case anyone else asks, I know the answer. This is all new to us, too.''

On to Lot 26, where the guard--never looking at any list--waved me in. I parked and was getting ready to head for the entrance to the building when another guard asked if I was where I was supposed to be. I said I thought so.

''OK,'' he said. "It's my first night.''

Somebody else mentioned that the entrance they always used was blocked. They drove over the cones.

I love the preseason.

Anyway, once in I learned that Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks had decided to hold out Andre Miller and start Lou Williams at the point, to use Kareem Rush at small forward in place of Thaddeus Young, and to start rookie Marreese Speights at center. Samuel Dalembert (sore knees, remanants of the flu) was out for the second game in succession. The plan was to use Young and possibly Theo Ratliff off the bench.

Official cutdown day is tomorrow. I don't know for sure, but I'm hearing free agent big man Jared Reiner--who has acquitted himself nicely--could be on thin ice.

 The Nets were without Josh Boone, Keyon Dooling, Jarvis Hayes, Eduardo Najera and Stromile Swift.

''I'm ready for the season,'' Cheeks said, insisting the major part of the game plan was to be sure no one got hurt. ''We're all ready.''