PORTLAND - Over the last two games, 76ers coach Doug Collins has turned to veteran point guard Royal Ivey with more consistency.
In the Sixers' win at Memphis the day after Christmas, Collins counted on Ivey to fill in for Jrue Holiday, and Ivey responded with six points, making both of his three-point shots in almost 11 minutes.
In a 96-89 loss to Golden State on Friday, Ivey logged more than 25 minutes. And while he scored just five points, Collins said that foes are going to see more of Ivey as the coach tightens his rotation.
"He brings energy and toughness that we have to have," Collins said before the Sixers faced Portland (14-14), which, like the Sixers (14-16), played Friday night. "His up-the-floor defense. What I try to do is I don't play him as a point guard offensively. I have him guard the points, and somebody else out there will handle the ball."
It's a move to take some of the strain off Holiday, who has primary ballhandling responsibilities.
Collins wants the Sixers to be tougher. and he believes that the trio of Ivey, Kwame Brown, and Lavoy Allen accomplishes that. Collins said he's also going to have Ivey on the floor more whenever the Sixers face two speedy guards, like Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis.
This probably means that Villanova product Maalik Wayns, who has not played in four straight games after appearing in 13 of the previous 14, is going to be hard-pressed to find playing time.
Averaging just 2.9 points and just under 12 minutes a game, Ivey, an eight-year veteran, has been slowed this season by a nagging groin injury and, most recently, strep throat. But that is behind him now.
"It's just part of the season, getting a chance to work myself into the rotation and bringing energy to the second unit," said Ivey, a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder last season. "I'm going to do what I do, and hopefully that translates into some wins."
It's what he has done since he was drafted 37th overall by Atlanta in 2004.
"That's how I have kept a job in the NBA for nine years, being one of those guys who brings energy and is always ready to play whenever Coach needs me. It doesn't matter if it's in practice or during a game. You have to be ready. That's what I do."