Holiday, Young impress in Sixers' preseason win
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ORLANDO -- The Sixers' first preseason game demonstrated what has been frequently discussed since they opened training camp nine days ago -- their shooting is much improved and Jrue Holiday appears poised to be an elite point guard in the NBA.
Newcomer Nick Young made 4 of 6 field goal attempts late in the fourth quarter to help the Sixers erase a seven-point deficit and beat the Magic, 102-95.
Young finished with 22 points, 12 of them coming in the final frame.
“It's the first game. I tried to go out there and get back to things, but with me being on a new team, I was trying to pick my spots out there,” Young said modestly of his performance.
“Don’t tell Nick I said this, but every time we played him he did something like that, going off on a tear,” Holiday recalled of the Sixers' games against Young's former team, the Wizards. “I think the last five times we played him in Washington we were up big and that’s what he does. He is also from California, my neck of the woods. I don’t know what it is. It might be the swag.”Great start for Jrue
Holiday played extremely well, going 8 for 9 from the field for 19 first-half points, which included 3 for 4 from behind the arc. Holiday also made a bucket at the buzzer coming out of a timeout. He drove the lane for a left-hand scoop shot to give the Sixers a 59-58 lead after two quarters.
Holiday had elevated his game last spring during the playoffs, when he led the Sixers in postseason scoring with 15 points per game. The question coming into this season, which is his fourth, was whether he could he do that and more this year.
Holiday certainly had a strong showing against the Magic, making 12 of 14 field goal attempts for 27 points in 18 minutes. He did not play in the fourth quarter.
“I had it going,” Holiday said. “I came out aggressive. I had open shots and I was hip-checked a couple times and they still went in. After a while the goal gets pretty big and you just keep knocking down shots.”
“Jrue the last three or four practices has been terrific,” Doug Collins said. “He has been really good, playing with a lot of confidence. He shot the ball well. He made plays. He got to the rim. I was very pleased with him.”Turner's early struggles
As good as Holiday was offensively, Evan Turner struggled. He was 2 for 12 from the field in a 30-minute run. He did have four assists and seven rebounds. He made his first field goal with 7:09 to play in the game.
Spencer Hawes picked up two early fouls and a third when he returned later in the first half. Hawes had two points and no rebounds in a 10-minute first-half performance. He played better in the second half.Defense needs work
The Sixers' defense has room for improvement. They allowed the Magic to score 58 points in the paint and get 22 second-chance points.
“I thought our front line played more physical in practice than they did tonight in the game,” Collins said. “I told them that. Orlando does a good job in there. They are very tough to defend. They cut hard. They do a lot of splits and their guards do a really good job playing the pick and roll."Impressive energy from Wayns
Maalik Wayns, as Collins promised, played significant minutes and made the most of them. He had one coast-to-coast run at the rim where he was fouled but it was another example of how quick he is.
His speed and hustle was on display throughout the 24 minutes he played. Wayns finished with six points, seven rebounds and six assists in his NBA debut, albeit a preseason game.
“I wanted Maalik to get minutes, especially late in the game,” Collins said. “I was really happy with him, the way he pushed that ball, made the right decisions and he made his free throws.”
Wayns' style of play is contagious.
“I’m trying to play more like Maalik,” Holiday joked. “The way he always pushes that ball and gets in the paint, I am trying to be aggressive that way.”
Wayns' day ended better then it started. Wayns was seen leaving the Sixers' shootaround wearing a Justin Bieber backpack with a stuffed animal sticking out of it. A rookie has to do what his teammates ask and the backpack wearing was at the request of veteran Jason Richardson.
It was all in good fun.Shooting goals
The Sixers made six of their first eight three-point attempts and then connected on just three of their next 10.
Collins has a goal for his team this year to get 40 points combined from the three-point line and foul line. They had 44. A year ago, the Sixers averaged 30 points when combining three-pointers and free throws made.
The bench totaled 56 of the team's 102 points.