FOLLOWING THE team's quick practice on Tuesday, a three-on-three game broke out among some of the players at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. On the sideline was 76ers coach Doug Collins, getting his workout in on the elliptical.
On the first possession of the contest Dorell Wright took a pass on the left wing, just outside the three-point line, and without hesitation drilled the 23-footer. The shot, and the lack of hesitation, didn't go unnoticed by Collins.
"That's it Dorell," he shouted encouragingly. When Wright drained another three, then another long two, his and Collins' eyes met and they both nodded approvingly. That's what Wright was brought here to do at the offensive end - take open jump shots from long distances and have the confidence that they will go into the basket.
That hasn't been the case of late, however, as Wright has struggled with his shot all season, making just 32.6 percent from the floor, including 35 percent from three-point range. Wright only played 2 minutes and didn't attempt a shot in Wednesday night's 96-89 loss to the visiting Chicago Bulls. More concerning is that when Wright does have open shots he is pump-faking more often than not, a sure sign that the belief in his stroke is waning. Though Wright has said repeatedly that he isn't concerned, his hesitancy to pull the trigger says otherwise.
"I don't want him to hesitate," said Collins. "What ends up happening is you miss a few, you pump-fake and now you're going to drive and you take yourself off a better shot to a more difficult one. I just want him to shoot the shots that we brought him in here to shoot, which are those quick swing passes where he has a little bit of daylight. We want him to take that shot because teams are selling out on him, they're doing to him exactly what teams used to do to Jodi [Meeks], sprinting at him and forcing him to put the ball down on the floor and trying to get inside the three-point line. We want him to shoot that ball with confidence. Just keep firing."
Last week, Doug Collins spoke of rookie Arnett Moultrie perhaps going down to the Development League to get in some playing time. Those plans have changed now, as Collins is relying more on Moultrie, who has played the past five games, is getting his time because Kwame Brown has been riding the pine. When asked about Brown's availability, Collins said that he isn't hurt and is available. He would go no further. That most likely means that Collins is not happy with Brown, whether it be due to conditioning or something else. So for now, Moultrie stays. And plays.
When Derrick Rose went down in a heap in Game 1 against the Sixers in the first round of the playoffs last season, it immediately changed the complexion of the series. Rose tore the ACL in his left knee and is working on returning at some point this season.
While his injury played a big part in the Sixers eliminating Chicago in six games, it was something Doug Collins certainly didn't want to see happen.
"I just knew what he did when I saw the way his leg buckled," said Collins. "I was very sad. Obviously it changed the playoff picture in our favor. But Derrick Rose is a shining star and a bright light in the NBA. He plays the game the way you're supposed to play it every night. He plays to win. I'm one of these guys that I want to see the best players on the floor. So I hope he's going to be healthy soon and get back out there. Will that affect us? Yes. But that kid needs to be out on the basketball court. He's special."