Add it up and you get 101-20. That has been the difference in bench scoring the past three games between the 76ers and their opponents. The Sixers are the team with the 20.
Why the enormous difference? Multiple reasons, coach Eddie Jordan said, the foremost being the lack of playing time for the subs.
"I'm searching," Jordan said after the team finished practice yesterday at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. "Some of it's performance and some of it is that I thought Elton [Brand] had it going early so I just wanted to sort of maximize his minutes. Sammy [Dalembert] has been terrific, so that's two spots. And Andre [Iguodala] almost I can't take off the floor. I rotate Willie [Green] and Jason Kapono and now we have Allen [Iverson], obviously.
"I'm just trying to get the guys who are playing well and get them their minutes. When they're playing well, they get minutes, there's no real mystery to it."
Well, the rotation has been a little mystifying, especially as the Sixers' losing streak has reached 12 games, heading into tonight's visit by Golden State. Perhaps it's due to injuries, with Marreese Speights missing what will turn out to be close to 6 weeks with a partial tear of the medial collateral ligament in his left knee, and Lou Williams still out for about 5 more weeks with a broken jaw. Also, the addition of Iverson has the coach trying to figure things out on the fly with a new player who apparently is going to be counted on to play 35 minutes or so a game.
Before his injury on Nov. 14 at Chicago, Speights was the leading sub off the bench, and was performing very well, averaging 13.2 points and 6.4 rebounds while shooting 60.5 percent from the floor. In the 13 games Speights has missed, Jordan has had five different players lead the team in minutes off the bench; Kapono (four times), Green (four), Brand (two), Rodney Carney (two) and Jason Smith (one).
The oddity of the substitutions is that a team's rotation system is usually set in stone, without drastic change from game to game. Jordan's rotation has been anything but.
An example is Smith. The past three games, Smith has logged a total of 17 minutes. The eight games before that, Smith had averaged a little more than 18 minutes a game. There also has been three games in which he didn't see action at all.
After seeing 10 or minutes in 12 consecutive games, including four with 20-plus minutes, Carney has averaged 6.4 minutes in the last five.
"Sporadic," was the word used by Carney yesterday when asked about his coach's subbing. "I'm pretty sure he sees something with matchups and stuff like that. You just have to be professional and ride it out and see what he has planned for us."
Jordan has talked about wanting to see all his players play during the season so that he can get a good look at who performs well in certain situations.
"It's mostly matchups," Jordan said of his substitution philosophy. "It's just a gut feeling sometimes. I think Elton's playing a little bit better, I think Sammy's been playing well. And obviously, Allen, trying to work him back in. And I think Willie has been playing well. And Jason Kapono is a guy I have to throw in to see if he can get it going for us to make some threes and separate us from the opponent because of his shot-making."
For the second straight day, Marreese Speights was on the practice floor with the team, as team Dr. Jack McPhilemy observed. Speights appeared to be moving well and showed no signs of favoring his left knee, which was wrapped in a protective sleeve. The team said he is still on his normal schedule to return to playing, which could mean game-action in about 2 weeks . . . Allen Iverson reiterated yesterday that it will be difficult to break the team's 12-game losing streak. "Everything that can go wrong [during losing streaks], it always happens that way. It's not going to be easy to get a win. It's gonna be some type of déjà vu or here-we-go-again type situation. This next game [tonight vs. Golden State] that we play is going to be one of the hardest games that we're ever going to play because we're trying to get a monkey off our back."