Give Brett Brown credit. The 76ers coach is trying to keep the locker room together amid mounting losses.
"So you choose different ways," Brown said. "It's just flushing out the elephant in the room."
He said if someone has to pass more, then his job is to make sure that player passes the ball more. If someone needs to accept not playing, Brown makes sure that player accepts his role.
"If somebody's not in a spirit that's team-oriented, then that's got to be flushed out," he said. "We keep it real. We flush out the elephants in the room."
However, the biggest elephant in the room is the team's 0-16 record, a franchise futility mark to begin the season. And things won't get any easier in the immediate future.
The Sixers entertain the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs on Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Spurs (12-4) extended their winning streak to seven games Sunday with a 111-89 victory over the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. Brown is very familiar with San Antonio, where he was a longtime assistant before taking over the Sixers' coaching job before the start of last season.
In a Nov. 17 matchup, the Spurs did everything in their power not to embarrass their former assistant's current team. Yet they still managed to win, 100-75, in San Antonio.
Manu Ginobili only played 11 minutes, 52 seconds. Tim Duncan was on the court for just 16:21, while Tony Parker saw 17:33 of action.
All 12 Spurs who were available to play hit the scoring column. And they did that by intermission.
Some could argue that the Sixers have improved since then. They might even point to their being competitive against their last four opponents - the New York Knicks, Portland Trail Blazers, Brooklyn Nets and Dallas Mavericks.
The Sixers also lost heartbreakers to the Orlando Magic (91-89 on Nov. 5), the Chicago Bulls (118-115 on Nov. 7) and Houston Rockets (88-87 on Nov. 14).
But in those seven matchups, the opposing teams were without at least one key player and/or appeared to go through the motions before doing just enough to win in the end.
Brown, however, believes his team will continue to fight.
"We are not going to roll over easy," Brown said. "This is a spirited group. This is no zero-and-16 team. Not mentality-wise. Not attitude-wise. They're fantastic."
Rookie power forward Nerlens Noel was checked out by head trainer Kevin Johnson on Sunday after he was elbowed in the right hip by Hollis Thompson at practice. Noel was walking gingerly with an ice pack on his hip, but the 6-foot-11, 217-pounder is expected to play against the Spurs.
"I never had this," Noel said. "K.J. said this is not a long lasting thing. I'll probably be sore for the rest of the day. But I think I'll be fine."