Yet, the coach is having a hard time faulting the players he has left. Even after they lost their 10th straight, 93-79 to the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night.
"I don't know how many games we've lost. ... I'm not even thinking about that," Cheeks insisted. "I like our effort. I thought our effort was great. If we keep getting that type of effort we've been getting, we'll be OK."
Still, things are getting harder.
Already without Iverson, the 2001 NBA MVP and the face of the franchise for 11 seasons who sat out his fifth straight game while the 76ers try to fulfill his demand for a trade, Philadelphia had to play without starting forward Chris Webber (sprained right ankle).
Philadelphia made its first three shots and led 6-2 before Jason Terry sparked the Mavericks to 21 points in a row over a seven-minute span. Even after trailing by 20 before halftime, the 76ers got within three points late in the third quarter before Terry hit a 3-pointer.
"Philly showed how much pride they have. They were not going to quit on themselves or their coach," Mavericks coach Avery Johnson said.
The 76ers have their longest losing streak since dropping 13 games in a row from Dec. 28, 1996, through Jan. 20, 1997, during Iverson's rookie year.
Iverson hasn't been with the 76ers for the past week while they try to work out a deal with another team. When asked about Iverson, Cheeks said his "energies are focused on trying to win a game, and not the extra things."
Terry scored 18 points to lead six players in double figures for Dallas, which has consecutive wins for the first time in December.
The Mavericks had alternated losses and wins their past six games since a 12-game winning streak. They never trailed in a 110-101 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night.
Josh Howard had 15 points and eight rebounds for the Mavs, while Dirk Nowitzki (on 5-of-14 shooting), Devin Harris and Greg Buckner had 13 points apiece. Erick Dampier had 12 points and eight rebounds.
Terry had a pair of 3-pointers that sandwiched his assist to Harris for a fast-break slam in the spurt that put Dallas up 23-6 in the first quarter.
Philadelphia got within 61-58 when Green hit a 15-foot jumper with 2:35 left in the third quarter. That ended a 22-8 run in which Dalembert scored eight of his 16 points.
"It's real important right now to develop habits with this team. I thought the guys showed a lot of character coming back," said Kyle Korver, who had 13 points and seven rebounds starting in Webber's spot. "We obviously can't start down like that against a team like Dallas when you're as young as us. That's the story of the game."
But Terry hit another 3-pointer and Philadelphia never got closer.
"We made it hard on ourselves. We could have done a better job of controlling the game," Nowitzki said. "We haven't played great the last 7-10 days, so every game is a test for us right now. We couldn't sustain that early energy to put them away."
Webber got hurt in Wednesday night's game against Boston. He missed practice Thursday and Friday morning's shootaround, though he did some shooting on the court before the game.
Korver made a 23-footer on Philadelphia's first shot 33 seconds into the game, and Johnson quickly called a timeout.
The 76ers made their first three shots and led 6-2, but had only 11 points at the end of the first, the lowest for a Mavericks opponent in any quarter this season. Philadelphia's 34 at halftime, when it trailed by 15 points, was the lowest first-half total against Dallas this season.
- A moment of silence was observed before the game in memory of Lamar Hunt, the NFL pioneer and Kansas City Chiefs owner who lived in Dallas. Hunt died Wednesday night.
- Jerry Stackhouse missed his fourth straight game for Dallas with a strained groin.
- The 76ers have lost nine straight road games. The last time they lost nine in a row on the road was the 1996-97 season, part of their 13-game losing streak. They play at San Antonio on Saturday night.
- The Mavs are 5-0 in the second game of back-to-backs this season. They play Saturday night in New Orleans, coach Johnson's hometown.