Returning from a hamstring injury that sidelined him for three weeks, Thaddeus Young's first game back wasn't exactly a tune-up. Tossed into the fire against one of the league's better teams, the New York Knicks, the 76ers big man played 36 minutes in a 99-93 loss Sunday night.

Clearly, when Philadelphia coach Doug Collins called Young the team's most important player after the injury first happened, he wasn't merely making a passing compliment.

Without Young in the lineup, the Sixers struggled badly in losing five of six games. Though the 24-year-old doesn't always fill up the box score, he's making a major impact in his return to the starting lineup this season after a two-year stint as a reserve, playing a career-high 35.5 minutes per contest.