Wright odd man out in Collins' new rotation

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Wright odd man out in Collins' new rotation

For now, Sixers head coach Doug Collins has found a rotation that he is going to stick with.

That means that barely two weeks after he took a DNP-CD in a seven-point victory over the Rockets and was deemed out of the rotation by the coach, Nick Young will continue to start for the Sixers.

The next trick for Collins is to “build a bench.”

“We started out with a different group and now we’re trying to create a bench,” Collins explained following Tuesday’s practice at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. “We’ve had Jason Richardson in and out and [Nick Young] was out for a while and Jrue (Holiday) was out for a while. Now we’re going with a starting lineup that gets us off to better starts and two of our offensive guys are starting and we have a defensive bench. I have to make sure I have enough scoring on the floor when [I go to the bench].”

Young started the last two games, scoring 20 points in a blowout victory over the Knicks and 13 in a loss against the Grizzlies. Meanwhile, since being benched and removed from the rotation, Young has averaged 14.7 points in six games while shooting 45.1 percent from the field and 35.5 percent from three-point range.

With Richardson expected to miss his fifth straight game with an injured left knee on Wednesday, Collins has decided to use his bench for defense.

In other words, expect Damien Wilkins and Royal Ivey to continue to log minutes off the bench, along with Lavoy Allen and Kwame Brown coming on to spell Spencer Hawes and Thad Young in the frontcourt.

The player on the outside looking in for all of this? Dorell Wright.

“I’ve just gone to a different starting lineup,” Collins said. “The guys I’m bringing off the bench, I’m going to a little bit more of a defensive mindset.”

It’s been an up-and-down year for Wright to say the least. He did not see action in either of the last two games and played a combined 25 minutes in the three games prior to that. However, Wright was invaluable at the start of the season for Collins, who used the veteran as a starter when Richardson missed some games with a sprained ankle.

Wright buried a three-pointer in the first eight games and in 10 of the first 11. He averaged nearly 13 points and nearly 30 minutes of playing time through the first seven games of the season.

And then Wright was on a Yo-yo between the middle and the fringe of the rotation. Still, despite sporadic playing time, Wright scored 20-plus in back-to-back games in December during the trips to Dallas and Houston. He also scored a season-high 28 points on 11 shots in a victory on Dec. 26 in Memphis.

But since the calendar flipped to 2013, Wright has averaged 5.9 points in his last 11 appearances, though he has shot the three-pointer reasonably well at 34.3 percent (12 for 35).

The situation with Wright bears watching. Acquired in an offseason trade with Golden State, Wright has one of those coveted expiring contracts that could make him trade bait as the Feb. 21 deadline approaches.

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Ben Simmons healing on schedule; Joel Embiid out tonight; Jahlil Okafor downgraded

Ben Simmons healing on schedule; Joel Embiid out tonight; Jahlil Okafor downgraded

Ben Simmons had a planned foot scan Monday in New York and is progressing as expected.

Simmons suffered a Jones fracture in his right foot nearly four months ago, Sept. 30, and there is still no timetable for his NBA debut.

Okafor downgraded
Jahlil Okafor was limited at shootaround Tuesday and has been downgraded to questionable for tonight's game against the Clippers. He had been listed as probable on Monday.

Okafor is dealing with right knee soreness he experienced on Saturday. The Sixers kept an eye on him Monday and held him out of 5-on-5 drills in practice. Okafor said the team was being cautious, and he wanted to rest his knee given the number of games coming up.

"It was bothering me a little bit in the warmup lines, I started to feel it. When I got going, it started feeling really good, then when I sat out for an extended period, it got kind of sore on me again," Okafor said Monday.

Embiid out
Joel Embiid, dealing with a left knee contusion suffered in last Friday's win over Portland, is officially out tonight. He is also expected to miss Wednesday's game at Milwaukee before returning Friday vs. the Rockets.

Sixers-Clippers 5 things: Big men, minus Joel Embiid, in the spotlight

Sixers-Clippers 5 things: Big men, minus Joel Embiid, in the spotlight

The Sixers (15-27) on Tuesday night open their latest back-to-back set against the LA Clippers (30-16) at the Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m./CSN, CSNPhilly.com and streaming live on the NBC Sports app).

Let's take a closer look at the matchup:

1. Missing in action
The Sixers are used to missing Joel Embiid for at least one game of back-to-back sets. However, they will have to forge ahead without him in both contests coming up on consecutive days.

Embiid will miss the Sixers' games on Tuesday and Wednesday after suffering a left knee contusion in the team's 93-92 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday. The matchups will mark three straight absences for the Eastern Conference Player of the Week after he was sidelined for the Sixers' blowout loss in Atlanta Saturday.

The Sixers haven't exactly been able to survive without Embiid's production this season. They are 2-10 minus the Rookie of the Year frontrunner and have allowed 106.5 points in those games.

Brett Brown challenged his team to perform better — particularly on defense — during this upcoming stint without Embiid.

“It’s still about our defense, it’s still about running, it’s still about sharing the ball,” Brown said after practice Monday. “I think you go with Jahlil (Okafor) and Nerlens (Noel) and challenge them in relation to rim protection and what Joel provides us. The group around them also has got to perform at a higher level when you don’t have Joel. I think that second group that we have been playing, led by Nerlens, really can take on a far greater defensive identity than it has recently, and Nerlens will be the captain of that.”

2. The Blake Show is back
While the Sixers will be without their star big man in Tuesday's tilt, the Clippers are expected to get one of theirs back.

Blake Griffin is likely to return to action against the Sixers after missing 18 games following right knee surgery.

Griffin was averaging 21.2 points and 8.8 rebounds this season as the Clippers jumped out to a 20-6 record. Griffin underwent an arthroscopic procedure to remove loose bodies from the knee on Dec. 19, and the Clips have recorded just a 10-8 mark since.

With fellow superstar Chris Paul sidelined with an injured thumb, getting the five-time All-Star Griffin back should be a major boost for the Clippers.

3. Take care
The Clippers may not be the force they once were in the open court (15th in the NBA with 12.7 fastbreak points per game this season), but that doesn't mean they still can't revert to their Lob City ways in the blink of an eye.

That could be the case on Tuesday if the Sixers continue to turn the ball over at such an alarming rate.

The Sixers, last in the league with 17.1 turnovers per game, have somehow been even worse during this recent string of success. They have committed 19.4 turnovers a night over the last five games and 17.8 during the last 10 contests.

The Sixers have been able to survive thanks to their active defense creating opportunities on offense and some clutch shooting. However, with Embiid sidelined and facing a Clippers team that ranks in the top five in field-goal and three-point percentage, those miscues may come back to haunt the Sixers.

4. Injuries
Okafor (knee) is questionable. Embiid (knee), Ben Simmons (foot) and Jerryd Bayless (wrist) are out for the Sixers.

Griffin (knee) is probable. Paul (thumb) and Brice Johnson (back) are out for the Clippers.

5. This and that
• The Sixers have lost nine straight games to the Clippers.

• Ersan Ilyasova is averaging 17.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game during January.

• DeAndre Jordan has averaged a double-double of 11.3 points and 12.8 rebounds against the Sixers in his career.