Sixers' Speights still positive despite second injury of season


Marreese Speights’ season hasn’t been much different than that of many
other players and coaches in the organization – that is to say it has
been frustrating, borderline maddening. But the second-year
forward/center out of Florida has been able to keep that devilish grin
present throughout the season. He is the team leader in fist-pounds and
high-fives and any other sort of congratulatory demonstration he can
think of.

As the team prepared at Conseco Fieldhouse yesterday for tonight’s game against the Indiana Pacers, though, Speights sat his 6-10, 245-pound frame on the sideline of the practice court, his right knee wrapped in a huge ball of ice. He will be out tonight and will not practice tomorrow.

Speights came down awkwardly midway through the second quarter in Sunday’s 114-101 win at Toronto, grasping at his right knee as play continued. He left the court immediately with the help of teammates. His first thoughts certainly weren’t good ones. Speights had missed 14 games earlier this season when he sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee during a game in Chicago. This injury seemed much worse to him.

"It felt way worse than my other injury," Speights said. "But when I got up and started walking, it started to ease up a little bit, so I was walking regular. When I first did it, it hurt real bad. Everything goes through your head when you hurt your knee like that. I thought I tore my ACL, my MCL. I’m glad it’s not really that serious. It’s minor, so I’ll come back from it."

Speights started the season as one of the first big men off the bench, and was doing a good job at it. Through the first 10 games of the season, Speights was averaging 11.4 points and six rebounds in close to 24 minutes. He also was shooting a blistering 54.8 percent from the floor.

He missed the next 14 games after suffering the left knee injury, but showed signs of being 100 percent. In his first eight games back from the injury, Speights still put up 12 points and 4.5 rebounds in an average of 20.6 minutes.

Then his playing time, and because of that his numbers, started to dip. Speights has averaged a little more than 12 minutes of playing time since Jan. 1 and scored in double figures in just four of the 30 games since then.

"It’s just been an up-and-down year, but it’s been an overall good year," Speights said. "The only thing I can complain about is me getting hurt. Other than that it’s been a good year.

"This is the first time I’ve ever been out of any games. In high school I hurt my ankle, but it was nothing serious."

Throughout this dismal season, Speights has toughed it out.

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