A few days ago, Eddie Jordan explained his defensive philosophy.
Jordan was standing in front of the locker room belonging to the Washington Mystics, the WNBA team whose digs serve as the NBA visitors' locker room at the Verizon Center.
Jordan was asked about defense, which this season his 76ers have rarely played, and which the Wizards, the team he previously coached, also played sparingly.
"I remember spending an extraordinary amount of time in training camp with the Wizards on defense and we started out 0-5," Jordan said. "Then we put a little bit more time into offense and we won six in a row."
That defensive philosophy sounds frighteningly like an offensive philosophy.
And so far this season, the Sixers have played defense - especially in fourth quarters - the way Jordan talks about defense: as if it were an afterthought.
That night in Washington, about 90 minutes before tip-off against the Wizards, Jordan began the discussion of defense this way: "I'm a true believer that you have to have some defensive leaders and defensive personnel. I think our defense is good when Sammy [Dalembert] is good. Our defense is good when Andre [Iguodala] is a major scorer. We have a young team; we have to learn to play as a team defense."
A few hours later, Jordan played Dalembert only 17 minutes, 2 seconds and for only 2:47 during a fourth quarter during which the Wizards scored 33 points, stealing a victory by cruising to the rim as easily as if they had E-ZPass.
Dalembert is not always "good," but that night he was: 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting, six rebounds and two blocked shots. In Dalembert's 2:47 of fourth-quarter play he had three defensive rebounds and a blocked shot.
But as the game was being lost, it was Marreese Speights playing Dalembert's minutes. Speights is the offense guy. In his 9:51 of fourth-quarter play, he scored seven points, but had zero defensive rebounds and zero blocked shots.
Down the stretch, Jordan went with offense.
"Scoring is important," Sixers guard Willie Green said immediately after the loss. "We want to outscore the other team as well. I think the game will eventually slow down. When both teams are struggling scoring, it's the team that can stop the other team from scoring that will win the game, eventually. Some games we'll outscore people. Nine times out of 10, you have to, late in the game, be able to get a stop. The best teams in the NBA, they can stop you and make you take tough shots."
Continued Green: "Our losses are a combination of things, but I have to go back to our defense. I think that we have been scoring the ball well but it's frustrating not being able to make defensive plays and stop guys. It was evident tonight. They had a nice little lead and then they just turned it on when they wanted to.
"We didn't do a good job of defense on this team, especially when Sam's [Dalembert] out of the game. Our perimeter and post guys have to do a better job of keeping guys out of the paint. Overall, if we play harder on defense, eventually the game will come down to a win."
Aside from point guard Andre Miller, who is now with the Portland Trail Blazers and wasn't exactly a defensive stopper, the Sixers have the same core players.
So what's different?
"Not sure," Green answered. "Thinking about last year and the year before, the reason we were so successful wasn't just because we were running, but it was because we were able to stop teams and rebound the ball. That triggered everything for us. Once again, we need to stop people."
Yesterday at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, the Sixers practiced. A few minutes into practice, the Sixers' official Twitter account posted a Tweet: "Coach Jordan says practice will focus primarily on defense, terming today a 'defensive training camp.' "
Some love for AI. Yesterday, the NBA released updated results from the 2010 All-Star Game voting. Sixers point guard Allen Iverson is currently second in votes among Eastern Conference guards with 635,084 votes. Iverson trails only the Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade, who has 1,314,215 votes. If voting ended today, Iverson would be a starting guard. Voters select two guards, two forwards, and one center from each conference. No other Sixer is near contention.
Follow the 76ers on Kate Fagan's blog at http://go.philly.com/dsixEndText