The concept of Samuel Dalembert's being the decision- maker in a give-and-go, backdoor offense might leave those inside the Wachovia Center holding their breath.

But, through about 10 days of this 76ers preseason, Dalembert, the team's starting center, has often been the hub of new coach Eddie Jordan's Princeton offense.

And it has looked remarkably smooth.

Tonight at 7, the Sixers will continue their six-game preseason schedule, playing the New Jersey Nets at the Wachovia Center.

Yesterday at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, the Sixers practiced for about two hours: On multiple occasions, Dalembert dished to cutters for quick hoops. Such a display was a 180-degree turn from last season's struggles, when Dalembert requested a trade and spent much of the season frustrated with his role and playing time.

"I love Sam," Jordan said. "I love what Sam is doing for us. I love his approach, I love his attitude, I love his enthusiasm. . . . Sometimes I have to tell him, 'Look for your shot, look for your shot.' And he's a willing passer out of the post."

This praise could come across as hollow as a basketball, but all on-court evidence supports Jordan's assertions: Dalembert's midrange shot has been consistent, as has his unselfishness in the post.

"Sam is an emotional guy and he knows this coaching group has his back," said point guard Lou Williams. "He's happy. Sam is happy. He's joking with guys again, he's talking; he's back to his normal self. We're going to need him to be that way."

Jordan said Dalembert has the second-best shot on the team, behind forward Jason Kapono, who is one of the best three-point shooters in the NBA.

Dalembert said that in past seasons, he would post 15, 20 times - even have the guy on his back - and still not get the ball. With this offense, Dalembert knows it's coming through the center. He said for teams not used to seeing him with the ball, this would be "scary."

"They're not used to seeing me always getting the ball," Dalembert said. "So they're kind of like, 'Sam is going to catch the ball, and if you don't come out Sam is going to shoot the jumper, Sam can move the ball, pass the ball.' . . . I really buy into it. I'm really happy and I'm really confident about this offense."

Swingman Andre Iguodala, who through two preseason games has initiated the offense probably more than anyone, said Dalembert has always had the ability to pass; he just occasionally made the wrong decision.

"Sam has always had a knack to want to throw passes, backdoor cuts," Iguodala said. "So we knew he could do it. We just needed him to make the read at the right time. I think it's a happy medium: Give him those options to make those passes but keep him under control."

Left-hamstring epidemic. Guard Royal Ivey did not practice yesterday, joining forwards Rodney Carney and Stromile Swift on the sidelines with strained left hamstrings. Ivey injured himself in the fourth quarter of Wednesday night's win over the Toronto Raptors. All three players are listed as day to day.

Cheap tickets. Baseball fans can bring their ticket stubs from Game 1 or Game 2 of the Phillies' first-round playoff series to the Wachovia Center and redeem them for a $10 ticket to tonight's preseason home opener against the New Jersey Nets.

On sale. Individual regular-season tickets will go on sale tomorrow at 10 a.m., an hour before the Sixers will hold an open practice, free to the public, at the Wachovia Spectrum.