PHILADELPHIA - Sixers center Samuel Dalembert took the court against the Knicks last night trying to keep his mind off what he called the "unimaginable" suffering in his native Haiti.

Dalembert, a Port-au-Prince native who played at Seton Hall, has immediate family members living in earthquake-stricken Haiti. He has spoken to his father and interacted on Facebook with his teenage sister and brother, who are unharmed. "Hopefully when everything's settled I can find a way to get them here," he said.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

But other friends and relatives were unaccounted for - and unreachable - as of 6 o'clock last night.

"Talk about emotional," Dalembert said. "I couldn't hear from anybody. I wasn't able to contact the other side of my family. Still waiting from word from the other side where the real things happened. My friends, cousins, people that have been part of me like a brother and sister. Still waiting for them."

Dalembert, who scored 12 points with 21 rebounds in the Sixers' 93-92 loss to the Knicks, said he tried to hire a plane to fly to Haiti Tuesday but was told no planes were being allowed in. So he is doing what he can through his foundation - www.dalembertfoundation.org - while waiting for word.

"It's tough," he said when asked if he thought about sitting out last night's game. "Not playing - there's nothing I can really do except pray and send money . . . It's like crazy. You're out of your mind, feel like you're in a cage. You cannot move, you cannot do anything."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Dalembert has other family members, including his mother, grandmother and sister, living in Florida. He was raised by his grandmother until age 14; after that he lived in Montreal with his parents. The 28-year-old was hoping 21/2 hours of basketball can help him through this ordeal. "I'm trying to be tough," he said. "Anyone who knows me knows deep inside I'm hurting."