Ratliff calls Sixers coaching too soft

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"You don't know if you're going to get back to this position," Theo Ratliff said. "This is my 14th year. It's not guaranteed that I'll be in the playoffs again. To not get the effort, to see how things went, the lack of hustle, that leaves a distaste." (Ron Cortes / Staff Photographer)

This was long after most of the 76ers had cleared out of the locker room last night, when Theo Ratliff - a 14-year veteran of the NBA - was talking about what he saw and what he didn't see in the midst of a distressing, disappointing, infuriating, 114-89 playoff-elimination loss to the Orlando Magic.

Ratliff had plenty of time to watch it all unfold. He played just 4 minutes, 57 seconds, and not at all in the second half. And that seemed to be the very least of his objections. He didn't like what he perceived as a lackadaisical approach during the day, and how that filtered insidiously into a game in which the Sixers never had a chance, never gave themselves a chance.

"It's distasting to go out like that, to be on the bench watching," the veteran center said. "It's not a good feeling."

Asked whether he felt he could, as a veteran presence, have helped, he said, "It ain't about veterans."

"The coaches are responsible for guys [being] prepared and playing," he said. "They have to hold guys accountable. It's been that way all year, so you couldn't expect anything different.

"You have to step up and get into guys. If [as the coach] you don't have that type of personality, to be able to go at guys . . . "

He let his thought trail off, paused and added: "At the same time, it's your position. You've seen the mistakes and all that going on. Was anybody getting talked to about that? To me, this is losing if you have situations like that."

Ratliff never mentioned Sixers coach Tony DiLeo by name, but he made his points clear.

"[The lack of that] has bothered me, and I've told them it's bothered me, that it's something you've got to deal with," he said.

"When you see the lack of effort, the lack of concentration, the lack of being able to get things done, and to stick with the same thing, to me you're just trying to play guys, and I don't feel good about it."

Ratliff is a free agent and that seemed to play into his emotions last night.

"You don't know if you're going to get back to this position," he said. "This is my 14th year. It's not guaranteed that I'll be in the playoffs again. To not get the effort, to see how things went, the lack of hustle, that leaves a distaste.

"I'm not a coach, I don't make the substitutions. But if you're going to do it like that, then that's the way it's done, then you get that type of game. You're going to get whupped, plain and simple.

"If you see mistakes and you don't address them when it's going on, guys get comfortable . . . That's why you lose seven games while you're trying to move up [in the seedings].

"We played [the Magic] a good series, then came in tonight like we changed our whole mentality."

Ratliff was the last player out of the locker room. Forward Reggie Evans, who didn't play at all, was the first.

"It really doesn't feel right [to end this way]," Evans said. "At home, with our fans, what more can you ask for? We played awful. I can't fight that [statement]. Embarrassing. Awful. Terrible. It just doesn't feel good." *

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