Philadelphia 76ers coach Doug Collins was highly critical of his team’s effort Tuesday and openly questioned his players’ preparation following a loss to the lowly Orlando Magic.
“I sure didn’t see this effort coming,” Collins said to open his extremely candid postgame news conference. “I thought we played incredibly hard against Miami. I thought we played incredibly hard in New York on Sunday. And this is mind-numbing to me. We went up 29-20, and from that point on, I couldn’t even tell you what occurred.”
The Sixers struggled mightily down the stretch in Tuesday’s 98-84 loss, their sixth consecutive defeat. A trendy preseason pick to contend for the Atlantic Division title, Philadelphia (22-33) fell a season-high 11 games below .500.
“I’m disappointed, I really am,” he said. “There was so much this season that we were looking forward to. But it just seems like every time we turn around, it’s been something else.”
Philadelphia has lost all four of its games since the All-Star break, but Collins would not comment on whether or not his players had become “comfortable” losing.
“I told you, I did not think our guys prepared themselves during the break to come back to play,” he said.
Collins also acknowledged reaching out to his players in an attempt to “be a better leader.” But the 61-year-old Collins also emphasized that his players need to commit to improvement.
“Sometimes you’ve got to help yourself,” he said. “Youth is a very blaming thing. … I usually go to them. And after a while, the talk gets old. It just does — at some point in time, you’ve just got to play.
“They say it’s a players’ league. Well then take ownership. That’s all I’m asking — take ownership of what you’re putting out there.”
Collins cited Andrew Bynum’s health on several occasions during his 11-minute conference. But Collins did not use Bynum’s season-long absence as a reason for his team’s lack of preparation or effort.
“We are a team that the least, little change affects us,” he said. “All of the sudden the starting lineup changes again — we have guys that don’t deal well with that. We’re not a team that rolls with it that easily.
“I don’t want you to feel like I’m up here blaming. I don’t want you to think I’m making excuses. That’s not what this is about. … I’m a guy who when I have coached, I’ve always been able to find some answers. And I have not been able to find answers, and from my standpoint that is very disappointing, because I’m paid to do that.”
A four-time All-Star during his eight-year career as a guard for the Sixers, Collins has compiled a 98-105 record in his two-plus seasons as Philadelphia’s coach.
“I wish I knew [why we’re struggling],” Collins said. “I really do. I’m sitting there — I gave my body to this franchise. I was never booed as a player, never. I ran through my sneakers. … There cannot be a game where you just go out and don’t put your heart and soul into the game. We had an off-day, we’ve been on the All-Star break — there’s no reason for that, none.”