Puzzling process for Sixers' Brett Brown

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Coach Brett Brown seems to be the only one willing to tell the truth about how bad the Sixers are. (Associated Press)

BRETT BROWN is doing his best juggling act right now, mostly involving the three point guards he currently has at his disposal, partially trying to figure out how to best use the two big men that so many have high expectations for.

What is keeping the coach's mind most busy lately has been how to use the three different lead guards in Isaiah Canaan, T.J. McConnell and Phil Pressey. McConnell started the first 13 of the first 16 games of the season and showed an ability to get the ball to open players and limit mistakes. He doesn't possess much of a threat as a shooter however, which is the strong point of Canaan starter of the past two games at the point. Pressey is a pest, who can create offensively with an unconventional, yet sometimes effective, style.

"This is all part of the puzzle, isn't it? So we'll start with Isaiah. We know that he's paired most wisely with Jahlil (Okafor) - shooter and post presence. Then you get into some other stuff where we really have two traditional point guards in T.J. and Phillip and then you have Isaiah, who I think has been great as that combo who can play some two and can play some one. This group is so, at times hard to coach and challenging because you're just feeling it by the seat of your pants, the whole walk downs of games."

Of course they haven't been very good at walking down games of late as they've held fourth-quarter leads in the past five games, only to see their losing streak to start this season grow to 18.

Brown has done so many different things with the lineup down the stretch, trying to get the right combination on the floor to be able to hold those leads and reward his players with that first win. It has been a struggle, to say the least. He even kept Okafor on the bench during a recent fourth-quarter run as a smaller lineup was finding success.

"Look at how unlikely our comeback was (against Houston on Friday), Jerami (Grant) at a five, (Robert) Covington at a four, Jahlil on the bench telling me 'Don't put me in, the group's rolling.' We go up six with four or five minutes left with just an incredibly unlikely group. This group presents that every single night. You don't have your favorite play. You don't have your favorite five players to just walk down a game. So you just have to feel it. That was what you had hoped you would be at right now, but right now we're not."

Maybe at some point the plan at the end of games will warrant Okafor getting it dumped to him over and over because he's finding success there. Other times it may be about having that smaller lineup, with Nerlens Noel the only big. Perhaps Canaan is best to walk it down some nights, McConnell others. Sunday in Memphis, Brown chose to try and win it with Pressey at the end of the game.

"Fair enough," said Brown when asked why he chose Pressey that game. "We've had a decent sample size of kind of everything now. You feel the gym, you feel the physicality of the game and Phillip has a speed that allows him to go people and let him get inside defenses. So we decided to do that.

"So you continue to feel it out and that's not even talking about feeling out Nerlens and Jahlil and how they're coexisting. It's all over the place. It goes very much gut-feel at the end of games."

Six shots

Kobe Bryant will be making his final appearance at the Wells Fargo Center when the Lakers visit Tuesday night.

Bryant is having his most troublesome season in his 20 years, averaging just 15.5 points and shooting only 30.5 percent from the floor in 13 games.

He has scored more than 20 just twice and hasn't made more than half of his shots in a game yet. Should be a fun night and a good possibility for the Sixers to get t heir first win . . . The Sixers play the Knicks in New York Wednesday before finishing out the week with an afternoon game on Saturday against Denver. Game time for that is 1 o'clock.


On Twitter: @BobCooney76

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