Jrue Holiday scored a career-high 33 points to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a 104-101 win over the Phoenix Suns at the Wells Fargo Center.
Holiday shot 13-21 from the field and finished with 13 assists, one short of his career high. Evan Turner followed up his 26 point performance against the Thunder with 16 and 9 boards while Lavoy Allen started at center for the 7th time this season and scored 11.
After an off-night against OKC, Holiday bounced back with one of the best games of his young career. That’s the difference this year for Holiday. In the past, he would go through spurts where he strung together a couple of lousy games. This year, he responds to his bad games by coming out the next night in attack mode. Holiday recognized a mismatch with Suns point guard Goran Dragic immediately and scored in a variety of ways in the first half. He had a team high 13 points at halftime.
The Sixers led 46-41 at the break but didn’t play their best basketball. I was hoping that after last night they would come out hungry and jump out to a double digit halftime lead against the less talented Suns. Philly might have even been down at halftime if it hadn’t been for Maalik Wayns providing a spark off the bench. Wayns has played sparingly this season, appearing in just six games and shooting 1-10 from the field before tonight. He entered in the first quarter and injected some life into the team with a nifty spin move and layup over Suns center Marcin Gortat and hit a few jumpers early in the second quarter. Wayns had 7 in the half, important points because Nick Young and Dorell Wright made just one shot apiece.
The Sixers led for most of the second half and held a 95-51 advantage when Holiday made the play of the game. Off of a Sixers miss, Holiday skied in for the offensive rebound, finished in traffic and drew a foul. The free throw gave Philly a 7 point cushion, and thank God they had it because the Suns ran off 6 straight thanks to a couple of Michael Beasley buckets and a Jermaine O’Neal jumper. During the Suns run, Philly looked similar to how they looked last night late in the game, missing easy shots in clutch situations. Once again it was Jrue stepping up, knocking down a running 16-footer over Jared Dudley with 28 seconds left to give the Sixers a 102-99 advantage. Holiday and Turner each made 1 of 2 from the foul line after that, but the Suns weren’t able to take advantage. The Sixers are now 7-0 this season when leading after three quarters.
As much as I would have liked the Sixers to come out and destroy Phoenix, I’m happy with how they finished the game. Learning to win close games takes time, and they took a step in the right direction tonight. Holiday played like the go-to guy we need him to be, and the defense made two or three crucial stops. My question is how will the Sixers come out Tuesday night against the Mavericks, the final game of this short homestand?