Saturday, April 07, 2012

Slumpbusters in Philly, Sixers lose again

By John McMullen
jmcmullen@phanaticmag.com

PHILADELPHIA - Back in the day when syndicated television was still a powerhouse, "Slumpbusters" might have had a chance.

Every frat house in America knows what a slumpbuster is so let's just describe it as an easy end to a dry spell.

The Sixers and Magic both looked across the floor at tip-off on Saturday and likely saw an easy mark in a dimly lit bar, so much so that I could have sworn I saw Mark DeCarlo pitching "Slumpbusters" to Adam Aron in the bowels of Wells Fargo Center.

First a little history lesson for my younger readers. Before cable and satellite television was king, we had three broadcast channels and about three or four UHF channels which featured the syndicated content.

On Saturday afternoons, pro wrestling was king while prime time was all about Pamela Anderson and "Baywatch," which was once touted as the most popular television show in the world

Most of the fare offered, however, was awful but a lot of it sticks in your mind like a bad trip. The theme to "Charles in Charge," Anderson 's effort to go it on her own minus David Hasselhoff with "VIP" (ed. note, I still miss Natalie Raitano) and a car crash of a dating show called "Studs."

DeCarlo hosted the train wreck that was "Studs" but is better known for his roles on "Seinfeld" as Alec Berg or "Curb Your Enthusiasm" as Shaq's agent. He's the perfect guy to host Slumpbusters.

Now, hindsight tells me it was probably the Benadryl I was on to fight off some allergies and never saw DeCarlo but a slumpbuster was certainly on hand.

Let's face it Doug Collins is so out of sorts right now that he is attacking an ex-beat writer, who gave an opinion in a blog, while Stan Van Gundy let us all in on his latest personal psychiatric session, outing Dwight Howard as the  latest NBA megalomaniac. These two teams could join Barnum and Bailey at any time.

In the end, however, it was  the sinking Sixers that were the slumpbusters, not an Orlando team that had lost five straight and was missing two starters and another rotational player.

Glen Davis abused the Sixers inside in the third quarter and J.J, Redick exposed Collins' favorite Jodie Meeks in the fourth as the Magic escaped with the 88-82 victory.

Philadelphia is now two games behind Boston in the Atlantic Division with a trip to Beantown on the docket for Easter Sunday but forget about the Celtics. The real problem is ninth place Milwaukee, which is just 1 1/2 games behind the Sixers after a win over Portland and could send Philadelphia to the lottery, an almost unthinkable collapse after a 20-9 start.

Collins was especially upset with his starters, none of which reached doubles figures in the contest and combined to shoot 13-for-44 in the game.

Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner were almost shockingly bad. Holiday had played nearly 20 minutes and hadn't recorded a point, rebound or assist until he converted a three-point play with under five minutes to go, while Turner was a ghastly minus-23 in just under 20 minutes of playing time.

Philadelphia's starting five of Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand and Spencer Hawes along with Turner and Holiday fell behind 12-2 in the first and gave up an eight-point lead in the third in short order.

"The starts in the first and third quarters doomed us," Collins said. We just couldn't make a shot. Our starters shot 13-for-44 and we had open shots. It wasn't like we were not having open shots, so that was disappointing."

Collins was so upset he told the starters he will give them one last chance to prove something in Boston and then make a change if nothing improves.

The coach wouldn't say what that change would be but it's clear Meeks will replace Turner, since the second-year swingman has the shortest leash.

"That's just not a cohesive group," Collins said of his starters. "It's just not and the minute we put Jodie out there and we've got Thad, we get some movement and stuff, all of a sudden the game changed immediately."

So while the coach looks for a game changer, the rest of the NBA is looking at his team as a slumpbuster.
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