SALT LAKE CITY - The 76ers need a fresh start on their trip west, yet there seems to be some leftover baggage.
Before last night's game against the Utah Jazz, reserve center Marreese Speights addressed comments teammate Elton Brand made after the Sixers' last game, Tuesday's loss at the Washington Wizards, which gave them a 7-21 record.
That night, Brand said: "Certain guys didn't box out, didn't rebound, and weren't tough. Certain guys got a longer leash than others, so they played longer and the mistakes were shown."
Although Brand didn't name Speights, it was clear which player he meant, because Speights had played alongside him for most of the game's decisive fourth quarter. The Sixers lost, 105-98, allowing 33 points in the final quarter.
Speights said he heard about Brand's comments because "people called me."
"I was kind of upset because I wouldn't think my teammate would throw me under the bus like that," Speights said. "I would never say nothing like that about him. But, hey, he's been in the league longer than me, so I can't say nothing about it."
Brand is in his 11th NBA season, Speights his second.
Speights said he had not spoken with Brand about the comments.
"I ain't going to talk to him about it," he said. "He did it, so he can't really take it back."
Sixers coach Eddie Jordan seemed to think the pair had addressed the situation.
"It's just something that happened in the game - they talked about it," Jordan said. "And Elton is a veteran, and I would think the younger player at least listened to the vet and talked about it in the locker room or behind closed doors. Being a young player, I think he's learned that."
Brand is averaging 13.3 points and 7.2 rebounds a game; Speights is averaging 14.1 points and 6.4 rebounds.
Brand's comments after the Washington loss came after he had said, somewhat jokingly after a win over the Boston Celtics, that Speights "never passes."
"They know I'm a good shooter and a good scorer," Speights said about his teammates. "They make fun of me, but they know I can score the ball, so it's cool."
The Sixers also will play the Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Clippers, and Denver Nuggets on this trip.
Jordan said he felt no pressure at this point.
"I don't look at pressure," he said. "Every day is a new day, and we're working hard to improve the things we've been weak at."
Last night, Jordan changed his starting backcourt, moving rookie Jrue Holiday to the bench in favor of Lou Williams, who was playing in his third game since returning from a broken jaw. Jordan went with Williams, Willie Green, Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, and Samuel Dalembert.
A.I. still ailing
Point guard Allen Iverson, battling left-knee arthritis, remained on the inactive list. He did some pregame shooting and is expected to return to game action tomorrow against the Trail Blazers.
- Kate Fagan