Inconsistency is name of 76ers' game Philadelphia trips in post-Barkley era


BOWIE -- Washington Bullets assistant coaches Bill Blair and Jeff Bzdelik went on a scouting mission to Philadelphia on Wednesday night expecting to see the 76ers in disarray after a franchise-record 56-point loss to the Sacramento Kings in their previous game.

Instead, the two coaches left The Spectrum shaking their heads after the 76ers easily dispatched the contending New Jersey Nets, 132-106.

"I think we saw the 76ers play their best game of the season," said Blair, preparing his report for tonight's game with Philadelphia -- the first 76ers game for the Bullets in the post-Charles Barkley era.

No one really knows what to make of the reconstructed 76ers under new coach Doug Moe, who returned to the sidelines after being fired in Denver in 1990 and rejecting job offers because of stomach problems.

The inconsistent, often embarrassing play by the 76ers can hardly have helped Moe's health. After a recent blowout at home, he said: "I've never experienced anything like this. I'm so mad, I don't know who I'm mad at."

Moe has made repeated lineup changes and even revived his motion offense to get forwards Armon Gilliam and rookie Clarence Weatherspoon better shots down low.

After all but ignoring Manute Bol, Moe has made the 7-foot-6 shot-blocking specialist a starter and also has resurrected power forward Gilliam.

Moe also has temporarily shelved his three-guard offense of Hersey Hawkins, Jeff Hornacek and Johnny Dawkins, with Dawkins now being used in a reserve role.

With forward Tim Perry struggling offensively and center Andrew Lang still sidelined with a sore foot, Hornacek, who is averaging 20.1 points and seven assists, is the only positive in the lopsided Barkley trade with the Phoenix Suns.

Changes were mandated after the 154-98 trampling by the Kings. The quixotic nature of his team, which has a road victory over the defending champion Chicago Bulls, has Moe uncertain over what direction to take.

"You've got to find things out for this year and next year," he told the Philadelphia Daily News. "Who's going to be your nucleus, the guys you build around?

"You'd rather make the playoffs with some pizazz or get another good lottery pick. You don't want to be caught in no-man's land. But we should be able to tell quickly if we're going to make any run at the playoffs."

Weatherspoon, the lottery pick who is averaging 13.3 points and seven rebounds, has been a solid performer although he will never become the next Barkley.

But the 76ers finally gave up on small forward Kenny Payne, the No. 1 draft choice in 1989. Payne was waived Wednesday.

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