For Justin Holiday, still a chance with Sixers

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For Justin Holiday, still a chance with Sixers

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Yes, Jrue Holiday will be wearing a New Orleans Pelicans uniform come this fall after being traded on draft night.

However, there still may be the last name Holiday on the back of a Sixers jersey next season.

Jrue’s older brother, Justin Holiday, returned to the summer league team Monday after flying overnight from California after attending his sibling's wedding on Sunday. The flight clearly took something out of the older Holiday because he shot just 2 for 9 in 23 minutes for six points in the Sixers' 96-75 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Monday. He also had three rebounds and three assists in the defeat.

"I was exhausted, but that is not an excuse,” Holiday said. “I still think I could have helped more than I did, score more than I did, helped defensively more than I did, but the game is done and tomorrow I hope I bounce back. If I don’t bounce back that’s a problem.”

A year ago, Holiday played very well for the Sixers in Orlando and led the team in scoring. He comes back a year older with experience in the D-League and nine games played in the NBA.

Holiday signed a non-guaranteed contract late last season that allowed him to attend camp this season. The 6-foot-6 forward knows what he has to do to stick around with the Sixers.

"Make sure I stay consistent when I play, be the smart player that I am, efficient,” Holiday said. “Today, even some of the things that I did defensively weren’t the smartest. I remember I came to help on the baseline when Micah (Downs) had hit a couple threes before that. It wasn’t the smartest play.

"I mean it is a good thing that I want to help but not the smartest at that time. So continue to improve, play as smart as I can and be efficient and knock down my open shots."

Holiday's ultimate goal is to make the team -- a squad that will look very different than the one he played on last spring.

The biggest change on that roster will be the absence of Holiday's All-Star brother. He said he learned the news of the blockbuster deal from his sibling.

“I thought he was joking,” Holiday said. “I was flying and [Jrue] tells me and I said, 'You're joking' and he said, 'No, for real.' He explained that this is a decision they wanted to make and that is all there really was.

"At first my personal feeling was I am not playing with my brother anymore. I was looking forward to me having the opportunity to doing that this next year. But this is the NBA and it is a business.”

Game time
Michael Carter-Williams promised he would be better taking care of the ball in his second summer league game and the Syracuse product was just that on Monday. He went from nine turnovers on Sunday to zero turnovers in 30 minutes on Monday in the Sixers' loss to Indiana.

However, Carter-Williams failed to shoot the ball well again. He was 4 for 20 with 13 points after going 8 of 23 on Sunday. Carter-Williams did have seven assists against the Pacers.

“He said yesterday that there were some things that he knew that he saw that he would be able to correct," coach Michael Curry said. "With young guys, just like in football with quarterbacks, is the speed in which guys close down open passing angles and where the help is coming from. Once he realizes that, with his size he is going to be able to make those passes. He saw some things on the pick-and-rolls to down the ball as much as he does and make plays and not have any turnovers, that was great.”

Temple product Khalif Wyatt was much improved Monday, scoring 25 points on 11-of-18 shooting. On Sunday, he was 4 for 15 with nine points.

“He scores in so many different ways,” Curry said of Wyatt. “He can catch and shoot out to the three. He is able to make plays. He is not the best athlete, but he has been scoring a long time. What we have to do with him, we probably ask him to play the most defense he has ever played.

"He is going to have to be a guy that can be solid on the defensive end, so that he gets down the court to do some things that he is really good at on the offensive end.”

When asked if Curry’s assessment of Wyatt's defense is correct, the former Owl smiled.

“Coach Curry and Coach (Aaron) McKie in practices have been pushing me very hard to play defense every possession and take no possessions off,” Wyatt said. "I am just taking the challenge and trying to be a better defender and just get better everyday."

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Being immersed in the team is important for Nerlens Noel, and so is continuing his rehab. 

While the Sixers are on the road for three days to play the Grizzlies and Pelicans, Noel will remain in Philadelphia to work out at the training complex in Camden, New Jersey. The team is not scheduled to practice in between games, so staying back allows Noel another day to get on the court.

“[I want him to] just start playing more and have a ball in his hands, get hit, physical, feel people, play one-on-one,” head coach Brett Brown said.

Noel has yet to play this season because of elective arthroscopic left knee surgery in October. He rejoined the Sixers after completing the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Alabama. There still is no timetable for his return. 

Brown has said there is a “classroom” element to Noel’s return. He has to learn a roster with new players and schemes. 

The on-the-court side of it is a reacclimation to the intensity of the league. Regardless of how many games Noel already has played in the NBA, there is an adjustment period getting back into the grind of the competition. Brown believes the time in the gym this week will help Noel prepare for the level of intensity he will face in his return. 

“It’s such fool’s gold to think somebody’s going to jump back into NBA basketball after you haven’t played for so long. I don’t care how athletic he is,” Brown said. “It’s a man’s world, this league, and there’s a physicality and there’s a real-time reaction you have to have to play in the game. You can’t make that up in practice, you can’t make that up playing one-on-one, but you can better position him instead of just going out to get shots. I want him to feel a body, get hit, hit back, play one-on-one, those types of things.”

Noel had been assigned to the Sixers’ Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, to get in practice time when the Sixers had a game. The Sixers may forego another assignment and keep Noel at their facility as the Sevens also have two games in the next three days. 

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

BOX SCORE

Joel Embiid has been making the NBA look easy. Rookie of the Month honors, five double-doubles in 13 games, seven performances of 20 points or more … all having missed the last two years rehabbing from foot injuries.

Embiid, though, still is a player learning the league. Night’s like Monday’s lackluster showing are going to happen, even if it seemed unexpected against the struggling Denver Nuggets. 

“We’ve been used to seeing Jo have superhuman nights,” Brett Brown said after the Sixers’ 106-98 loss (see Instant Replay). “I thought Joel was down tonight.” 

Embiid tallied a total 16 points (5 for 15 from the field, 1 for 3 from three, 5 for 6 from the line) with four rebounds, one assist, a career-high five blocks, three turnovers and three fouls in 25:32. 

He had a quiet first half with six points (2 for 5 from the field) and one rebound in 9:21. The biggest struggle came in the third quarter. Embiid scored a single point off a free throw and shot 0 for 6 from the floor. By the end of three, he was shooting 18.2 percent. 

The big man said he needed to be better at passing out of the double team. He committed two turnovers in the third. 

“I wasn’t getting to my spot and I wasn’t getting what I’m used to getting,” Embiid said of the first three quarters. “I’m going to go back and watch the tape and see what I did wrong.” 

Embiid bounced back for another Embiid-like offensive effort in the fourth. He dropped nine points off an efficient 3 for 4 shooting in 7:31. Still, it wasn’t enough. 

“I made a couple shots,” Embiid said. “It didn’t help us win, so I don’t think it matters.”

Brown noticed Embiid rushing his game. He also thought Embiid’s balance was off, something the big man has been dealing with all season as he continues to find his legs. 

Embiid will not play in Tuesday's game against the Grizzlies. It is part of his workload management in which he does not play both games of a back-to-back. Expect him to hone in on game film until his next matchup, and get back on the roller coaster that can be a first year in the NBA. 

“It's just part of a young man's growth,” Brown said. “It just happens. I don't think we need to read too deeply into it. I think, in many ways, to expect from time to time not as good of a performance as we have been used to is fair enough.”