You knew the buzz wouldn't last forever. It couldn't.

But this seemed especially abrupt.

On Wednesday night, for the game after Allen Iverson's emotional return, the energy at the Wachovia Center regressed to pre-Iverson levels.

On Monday, a sold-out crowd of 20,664 packed the arena for Iverson's "debut." Two nights later, 12,136 people watched the Detroit Pistons beat the Sixers, 90-86 - a difference of 8,528.

Iverson's effectiveness dropped, too. He scored 11 points both nights, but on Wednesday, he had six turnovers and performed as he had warned, needing to knock the dust off.

When the Sixers signed Iverson, their losing streak was at eight games. Since then, they have played three more - one without Iverson at Charlotte - and the streak has reached 11.

The Sixers are 5-17 and above only the New Jersey Nets, who opened the season 0-17, in the Eastern Conference.

Yesterday, the Sixers were off. Tonight, they play the Houston Rockets at the Wachovia Center.

Sixers coach Eddie Jordan said his team had been "disjointed offensively" since trying to fit in Iverson "on the fly."

But the reality is that the streak - and the Sixers' poor play - started long before Iverson's addition, or the losses of center Marreese Speights and guard Lou Williams to injury.

Since the Sixers added Iverson, Jordan's Princeton offense, which he was brought in to teach, has been downgraded to the minimum, with an emphasis on simple pick-and-rolls and standard sets.

The result has been an increase in effectiveness from power forward Elton Brand and center Samuel Dalembert, although the bench has been virtually nonexistent since Iverson's arrival.

"It's the darndest thing I've ever seen," Jordan said after Wednesday night's loss. "Some people say we're snakebit. I don't like to think that. We just haven't caught a break.

"It's just like anything: You'd like to catch a break somewhere to get you over the hump."

Jordan spoke of Andre Iguodala's miss with 3.9 seconds left against the Pistons, on a wide-open three-pointer that came off the back of the rim. The shot would likely have won the game.

"A break would have been a make right there with an open shot," Jordan said, adding that "we could use that, but we haven't had one, so we have to do it the hard way."

Iverson, who passed to Iguodala, said that of course he would have liked to have taken the final shot, but that the team couldn't have gotten a better look.

"At this point, it's like a gorilla on your back," Iverson said of the streak. "I was telling them the next game, the game that we win, is not going to be easy.

"It's going to be one of the hardest games ever for you to win because everything has been so downhill and when something finally positive happens, it's going to happen because you worked for it."

Early results. The NBA released early results of its all-star balloting yesterday.

For the Sixers, Iguodala was seventh among Eastern Conference forwards with 75,146 votes. Samuel Dalembert was 12th among the conference centers with 13,969, and Iverson sixth among the guards with 136,976.

The voters select two guards, two forwards, and one center from each conference. Balloting closes on Jan. 18.