PHOENIX - Shortly after a withering display of defensive tenacity produced the 76ers' first win of the season, Wednesday against the Phoenix Suns, Evan Turner wanted to make sure that everybody knew why he and the second unit are known as "the field-goal unit."
"It's because we come in and get buckets," Turner said. "We come in and we get things going."
Through two games, the Sixers' second unit has been impressive. It has accounted for 93 points, 45 in the season-opening loss to Portland and 48 two days later in the 103-83 rout of Phoenix.
There is no huge discrepancy, however, between what the field-goal unit and other teams' benches have done because Phoenix's reserves actually outscored the Sixers subs, 59-48. Of course, Phoenix's bench had to cover up for the abysmal shooting of the team's starters, who combined to make just 7 of 35, or 20 percent, of their field-goal attempts.
Against Phoenix, Thaddeus Young contributed 15 points and five rebounds. Lou Williams, who led the Sixers with 25 in their 107-103 loss to Portland on Monday, added 13 points and five assists, second only to Andre Iguodala (six) for team-high honors. And Turner scored 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds.
Those three were the only reserves to play against Portland, but against Phoenix, Sixers coach Doug Collins inserted rookie center Nikola Vucevic into the rotation and the big man responded in his career debut with six points, six rebounds, and a pair of assists in a little over 20 minutes.
Hearing him speak, it is evident that as Collins expands the rotation he expects Vucevic to begin playing a larger role.
"I believe in him, the guys believe in him. You guys see that he's got a great feel for the game," Collins said. "He's in the right spot defensively. He can shoot the ball. He can run the floor. He's got a really good feel for the game. He's got a big, strong body. He's going to be a nice addition to our group."
The Sixers are not very big across the front line. Spencer Hawes has come back in great shape - he has grabbed 14 and 11 rebounds in the two games - but he's a thin 7-footer. Elton Brand on most nights is shorter than the power forward he's playing opposite, and Young doesn't give the Sixers much size off the bench.
At 7-foot and a solid 260 pounds, Vucevic is a welcome addition to the bench.
"It was good to see him get in and get his first bucket," Brand said. "He can pass, he can play. It's good to see Nik get some minutes because he deserves it. He's practiced well in scrimmages and games. He's a good player so it's good to see him play."
Notes. Guard Jrue Holiday suffered a contusion of his right knee late in the fourth quarter of the Sixers' victory over the Suns. However, he practiced with the team on Thursday and is listed as probable for Friday's game at Utah.