CHICAGO - For the first time in his NBA career, Marreese Speights has been sitting through entire games.
Because of a coach's decision, Speights did not play in three of the 76ers' eight games since Dec. 4. On three other occasions, he played single-digit minutes.
Before Tuesday night's game against the Chicago Bulls, coach Doug Collins addressed Speights' playing time.
"He asks me all the time, 'Coach what do I have to do?' " Collins said. "And I say it's just about trust. The more I trust you, the more minutes you're going to get."
During Saturday's 97-89 win over the Orlando Magic, Speights played 17 minutes, his highest total since Nov. 24. When Collins substituted for Speights in the fourth quarter of Saturday's game, Collins spent a few seconds praising Speights as he walked to the bench; Collins was clearly pleased with the performance of his third-year big man.
"When Mo is engaged, and I thought he was in Orlando, then he gets a chance to be out there because he can rebound, he can knock down shots, he gives us some size," Collins said.
On Tuesday against the Bulls, Speights played almost 12 minutes, scoring two points and grabbing three rebounds.
This season, Speights is averaging 5.1 points and 3.4 rebounds in 12.3 minutes per game. In his rookie season, Speights averaged 7.7 points. Last season, Speights averaged 8.6 points.
In his first two seasons, excusing games missed because of injury, Speights almost never received DNPs because of a coach's decision.
"The big thing with Mo is I talk to him about how important it is to focus and concentrate on what we need from him. Because Mo can make shots, but it's so important with our defense because all of our guys are attached - everybody is on a string kind of thing. If one guy breaks down, it breaks down the whole thing."
Added Collins: "I think it was a shock to him he had a few DNPs. But I said, 'Mo, it's nothing personal. I want you to know any minute you get is precious, so when you're out there you make sure you're getting the job done.'"
Coming home. Collins coached the Bulls from 1986 to 1989, his first head coaching job in the NBA.
"I coached here three years and people around here make me feel like it was 30," Collins said of the friendly faces.
The trek. Tuesday night's game was the second of eight consecutive road games for the Sixers, who will not play at the Wells Fargo Center again until Jan. 5.
Inactive. The Bulls' Joakim Noah (right thumb surgery) and Taj Gibson (concussion symptoms) were inactive for Tuesday night's game.
Tuesday night's Sixers game against the Bulls ended too late for this edition.
at Celtics, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.
- Kate Fagan