76ers' Wilkins remaining professional despite gloomy season

76ers shooting guard Damien Wilkins shoots over Hawks point guard Jeff Teague. (Todd Kirkland/AP)

As you walk through the 76ers locker room these days, you can’t help but notice that there is a feeling that this season is over.  Reporters continue to talk about how far the Sixers are out of the final playoff spot - nine games out and not yet mathematically eliminated – but none of us believes the Sixers (24-39) will make up the ground needed to overcome Milwaukee.

But it is nice to see the professionalism demonstrated during the dog days of the season by Damien Wilkins.

Wilkins has just two starts, in the last two games, of the season.  

Eighteen times this season, Sixers coach Doug Collins has seen fit not to play Wilkins. But Collins, who gave the Sixers off on Tuesday, has turned to the 33-year-old Wilkins lately and he has played like a pro.

Wilkins has shot 11 for 20 in the last two games and scored 16 and 13 points, respectively.  He’s blocked five shots in the last two games, and he’s reached double-digits in scoring in four straight games, notching a season-high 21 in a loss to Atlanta.

He has scored in double-figures in six of his past 10 games he’s appeared in after not scoring more than seven points in any game prior.

Wilkins, 33, a nine-year vet, is on a one-year contract. Never drafted, Wilkins knows catching on with another team won’t be easy next season.  Wilkins, however, wants to play 15 seasons in the league.

Losing here, right now, hurts.  

“The losing, I can’t stand it,” Wilkins said. “I hate losing. I hate losing more than I love winning.  It’s painful and I can’t find any joy in losing.”

Wilkins would like to say that this is how the rest of his teammates feel, but he can’t.

“I mean, it does feel like that sometimes,” Wilkins said. “I’m under the assumption that guys want to go out there and fight hard.  Hopefully we can just have some pride in ourselves. Obviously we are out of the playoff race but we are still playing for pride, still playing for the city of Philadelphia, still playing for our families.  That is enough for me to go out and compete my [rear end] off.