76ers Notes

WASHINGTON - Because of injuries, losses, and the free-agent addition of point guard

Allen Iverson,

the starting lineup has been shuffled like a deck.

Last night against the Wizards, coach Eddie Jordan decided against returning point guard Lou Williams to the starting lineup, preferring to stick with a backcourt of rookie point guard Jrue Holiday and shooting guard Willie Green.

Playing 32 minutes, Williams scored 12 points in the 105-98 loss. Green finished with 16 points and Holiday with five.

Williams, the team's starting point guard for the first 14 games, missed the next 12 with a broken jaw suffered in a loss to the Wizards on Nov. 24.

"I talked with Lou," Jordan said before the game. "I know starting is important to him. . . . But I don't want it to be a shock to the system, to our starters, to have Lou in the starting lineup.

"Eventually, he will be in the starting lineup, but Willie has been playing well, Jrue has been playing well. . . . There is a good chemistry about them."

Brand the reserve

Another player affected by the lineup shuffle has been power forward

Elton Brand

, who started 18 games but has come off the bench in the last five. He led the Sixers with 18 points and 12 rebounds last night.

"You know, his game is coming along," Jordan said. "Maybe he feels more aggressive, more confident against - I hate to say - second-line players."

A.I. update

Iverson did not travel with the team because of arthritis in his left knee. The Sixers have said he will return for the Dec. 28 game at Portland.

Away for the holidays

Last night's game marked the first of six in a row away from the Wachovia Center.

On Christmas Day, the Sixers will fly to Utah; on Saturday, they begin a 10-day Western swing that consists of games against the Jazz, Trail Blazers, Kings, Clippers, and Nuggets.

- Kate Fagan