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Speights To Start Against The Pistons

Rookie Marreese Speights will start for the 76ers tonight in place of the injured Elton Brand.

AUBURN HILLS, Mich.--Rookie Marreese Speights will step in to the 76ers' starting lineup tonight against the Detroit Pistons, filling in for the injured Elton Brand.

Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said at this morning's shootaround at The Palace Of Auburn Hills that Speights will open at power forward, with Samuel Dalembert at center. The rest of the lineup remains the same: Andre Miller at the point, Andre Iguodala at shooting guard and Thaddeus Young at small forward.

Speights has appeared in 17 of the previous 19 games, and is averaging 6.2 points and 3.8 rebounds, shooting 48.9 percent from the floor. He played a season-high 26 minutes in Tuesday night's overtime victory in Chicago, but was on the court slightly less than 6 minutes in Wednesday night's loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Brand, leading the team in scoring (16.7 points per game) and rebounding (10.0) did not make the trip after suffering a strained right hamstring during Wednesday night's game. Cheeks said Brand would also miss tomorrow night's game against the New Jersey Nets at the Wachovia Center.

Brand, averaging 35.6 minutes, played just 25 against the Lakers, coming out during the third period.

''It looked to me like he was running a little slower,'' Cheeks said. ''Then he couldn't go back in. I just kind of saw it. I didn't know he was hurt.''