Moe hopes 3 guards give 76ers some sort of offense


PHILADELPHIA -- The idea was to develop a basketball offense that moved at the speed of sight. All the commercials said so.

The reality, after a 3-11 start for the Philadelphia 76ers, is something entirely different.

"We've developed a slow-down, stand-around, do-nothing offense," coach Doug Moe said Monday.

Try putting that into a commercial.

Or try selling a ticket with that.

Or, worse yet, try winning a basketball game with that.

The Sixers haven't won in more than two weeks. They've dropped seven straight games, and haven't scored 100 points in their past three.

Each time Moe has tried to fix a broken part, another fissure develops. Last week, he took the Sixers back to basic defensive principles, hoping to rev up the offense.

It worked, sort of. The San Antonio Spurs were held to 98 points last Wednesday, but the Sixers held themselves to 82.

In a two-game weekend set with the Detroit Pistons, the Sixers averaged 93.5 points.

So when Moe took the Sixers back to the drawing board at practice Monday, it wasn't to work on defense. In fact, in a high-octane scrimmage session, defense was little more than a rumor.

Moe's latest attempt to kick-start the offense revolves around a three-guard starting lineup. Moe placed Hersey Hawkins, Jeff Hornacek and Johnny Dawkins on the floor Monday, teaming them with Andrew Lang and Clarence Weatherspoon.

The early returns were favorable,and if yesterday's scrimmage was equally good, Moe probably will use the lineup tonight at the Spectrum against the Seattle SuperSonics.

"We're trying to get our running game going," Moe said. "We're trying to do anything to build back some confidence. We've got to find a way to get the ball up the floor. I'd like to say this is really something new and this is going to be it, but honestly, we're groping."

By starting three guards, the Sixers' dreadful rebounding game will be even more severely tested. And there's no guarantee the offense will improve. Leaving the starting lineup will be Armon Gilliam, who has been the team's leading scorer in three of the past four games.

But what Moe particularly hopes to accomplish is a decent start to each half. The Sixers have buried themselves by falling behind in the first quarter and, usually more disastrously, in the third quarter.

"We're looking for any combination that can get us off the mark," Moe said. "Will this hurt our rebounding? Yes. But we have to do something. I don't know if it's going to work. If I knew it was going to work, it would have been done a long time ago."

The Sixers have played three guards many times this season, usually as a desperation second-half measure after falling substantially behind. The starting lineup has also undergone some modifications.

When Gilliam was out with a sore toe, Tim Perry took his place and stayed there even when Gilliam returned to action. Saturday against Detroit, Gilliam was back, but Hornacek and Hawkins were split up for the first time.

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