OKLAHOMA CITY - Yes, the 76ers are young and growing accustomed to life without Allen Iverson and Chris Webber and trying to take advantage of new opportunities. But one would think the poundings they have taken this season must be drowning them under a tide of frustration.
The Houston Rockets routed the Sixers on Monday night, 105-84, the 18th time this season (second in the NBA behind Atlanta) that the Sixers lost a game by 10 or more points. They were outscored, 60-30, in the middle two quarters, when they shot 24.4 percent.
The performance was quite a departure for a team that had won four of its previous six games. So the inability to sustain better play has to be getting to the Sixers, right?
"No matter what we do as players, a loss like this, yeah, it's frustrating," center Samuel Dalembert said yesterday after the Sixers practiced at Rice University in Houston before flying to Oklahoma City for tonight's game against the New Orleans Hornets.
"But it's such a long season, man. We've got games back to back. There's no time really to get down on ourselves because we've got a game right away, and then we go home and have another game after that. So we cannot really let one game like this destroy us."
Kyle Korver looked extremely frustrated after Monday's game, but said one bad outing wasn't going to change his or his teammates' approach.
"We're not down on each other," he said. "We're not down on anybody. It's not like we're trying to get used to losing, getting used to getting beat. I think we've done a good job that, if guys don't have good games or whatever, the next day we come out ready.
"This team has lots to prove. We have a couple of veterans that have proven themselves, but a lot of us are really young, and we've got a lot to prove. For us to just throw it in because it's not going our way . . . this is a lot of guys' chance to show what they can do. For us to hang our heads and get frustrated, that's definitely the wrong way to go."
Coach Maurice Cheeks must be happy to hear Korver say that. It's all he can do to keep things positive and make sure his team continues to look hopefully ahead to better nights.
"Our guys have been working from Day One of just trying to keep working hard and trying to win games," Cheeks said. "I have no worry of any building of frustration because we have guys that work. Now, there are going to be nights where the work they put in is just not good enough, but it's not from a lack of trying or doing enough work to win a game.
"That's my job, to make sure I'm putting that in their brain, to make them believe that they have a chance to go out and win games."
Tonight's game is the Sixers' final stop on a three-game road trip. The Hornets are 3-0 on a five-game homestand - the first in New Orleans and the next two here, with the latest win coming Monday night over Portland, 103-91.
In all, the Hornets have won six straight at home, and could have point guard Chris Paul back tonight. Paul, last season's rookie of the year, has missed the last 17 games with a sprained right ankle, but he practiced yesterday.
"They've been playing pretty good basketball even without him," Cheeks said. "So if he does play, we obviously have to prepare a little differently. But either way, we've got to prepare for a team that's been playing pretty good basketball."
The Sixers would love to improve on their showing of two nights ago, not just to finish this trip at 2-1 but also to help their confidence a bit.
"Right now I'm very frustrated," Korver said after Monday's game, "but tomorrow's a new day. The sun's going to come up, and we're going to have another game in two days, and we're going to play better and play harder."