DALLAS - The 76ers are heartwarming, if not effective.
In nearly every game, the Sixers refuse to be buried under double-digit leads, routinely escaping from them and clawing to within one or two baskets.
It's just that through the first chunk of this season, they have precious few victories to show for the effort.
The Sixers are 2-6, with wins over the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks.
On Wednesday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Sixers trailed in the second half by as many as 14 points. But with a little more than two minutes left in the game, they trailed by only 99-96.
The final few possessions included a number of losing plays, and by the final buzzer that's just what the Sixers had done: lost.
"Basketball is a game of mistakes, but you have to minimize them under pressure," Sixers coach Doug Collins said minutes after the 109-103 loss.
On Friday night against the Dallas Mavericks (5-2), the Sixers will try again.
"We did some great things," Collins said Wednesday. "But you saw the maturity of a [Thunder] team that has been together for a while, that has been in the playoffs, played the Lakers, and you saw us once again trying to learn."
Before Wednesday's game, Collins explained how intimidating the team's schedule could appear to the players: on the road against the Mavericks, the San Antonio Spurs, and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"Whoever made the schedule didn't do us any favors," Collins said, but he vowed not to let his team become overwhelmed.
"I can see us getting better," power forward Elton Brand said. "We need to grow and have this translate into victories, which it will. That's the sign of us getting better, us closing these games."
They're back. On Thursday, the Sixers practiced at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. For the first time in about a week, swingman Andre Iguodala participated. Iguodala missed two games with tendinitis in his right Achilles tendon, but he is expected to play against the Mavericks. . . . Forward Jason Kapono, who missed Wednesday's game for personal reasons, rejoined the team and is expected to play Friday.
Day-to-day. Combo guard Lou Williams, injured in the third quarter Wednesday, did not practice Thursday and is listed as day-to-day. Williams took a hit to his left shoulder while driving to the basket. The injury is labeled a left shoulder separation and is not expected to be serious.
Fined. Forward Andres Nocioni has been fined $25,000 by the NBA for throwing his mouthpiece into the Oklahoma City Arena stands. In the first half of Wednesday's loss to the Thunder, Nocioni, frustrated with a foul called against him, walked off the court and flung his mouthpiece into the baseline stands. A fan caught the mouthpiece, which appeared to ricochet off a banister. A Sixers security official immediately went into the stands to retrieve the item.