IT CERTAINLY hasn't turned into an epidemic yet, but it is a growing concern for Brett Brown and his coaching staff. Entering last night's game against the Orlando Magic, the 76ers were shooting just 70.2 percent from the free-throw line, third worst in the league.
They were barely ahead of the Charlotte Bobcats (70 percent) and slightly ahead of Detroit (66.1). The Pistons have one of the all-time worst foul shooters in Andre Drummond, who had made just 17 of 53 (32.1 percent).
So what to do? Many think that poor foul-shooting teams don't practice them the right way, thinking that players shoot them when they are well-rested, free and easy at some point during workouts. Obviously, when players shoot during a game, they are a little bit tired. But Brown does have his players shoot in practice immediately after running drills, so that isn't the problem. Solutions could be out there, but Brown isn't ready to change things yet.
"I think you try to implement it in practice in different ways," he said. "We spend a lot of time practicing, we do different things. But in relation to going too overboard on free-throw shooting during a year, I think at times [that] can be dangerous when you start tinkering with people's shots. I still think it's coachable and we're not going to dismiss it. It's a problem. At this stage we haven't really gotten that creative with the things that we're doing in trying to fix it. It's sort of been just a drip-feed, a steady diet of the same routine. I hope it doesn't get to that stage. I hope that we can just get through it."
In last night's double-overtime victory over Orlando, the Sixers shot 23-for-33 (69.7 percent).
Orlando was without the services of Jameer Nelson and Nikola Vucevic last night. Nelson sprained his foot against the Sixers last Wednesday and has been out since; Vucevic's injury might be something the NBA will take notice of.
In the Magic's loss Monday to the Washington Wizards, Vucevic rolled his left ankle after shooting a layup and coming in contact with a photographer seated on the floor. The positioning of the photogs underneath the basket is something that has been a bone of contention with coaches and players for a while now, and the Sixers in particular.
Early last season, Jason Richardson rolled his ankle the same way Vucevic did and wound up missing several games in what became an injury-filled season. Two seasons ago, Vucevic twisted his knee in Miami trying to avoid a collision when he was with the Sixers.
"It's frustrating because it's not happening during a real part of the game, but it's their job to be there," said Vucevic, averaging 14.7 points and 10.9 rebounds this season. "I feel like they could maybe be a little further back and it would be safer for them and the players."
Evan Turner's basketball idol is Michael Jordan. So when told that Jordan put together his all-time streetball team of himself, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Hakeem Olajuwon and Scottie Pippen, Turner was asked to put together his five.
"I didn't make the list?" was Turner's first reply, when told of Jordan's team. He was then asked to give his five - one including him, the other without.
"Me, Grant Hill, Penny Hardaway, MJ, and either Tim Duncan or Shaq."
Asked maybe if someone like Wilt Chamberlain should be on that team, Turner said, "Shaq was the most dominant player ever. I didn't see Chamberlain play and that's just me being ignorant. But 35 and 17? He averaged that in the playoffs one year."
It was actually 30.7 and 15.4 in 2000. When told Chamberlain averaged 30 points and 23 rebounds for his career, including 50.4 and 25.7 in 1961-62, Turner didn't budge. His final team, excluding himself: Hill, Hardaway, Jordan, O'Neal and Ray Allen.