For Justin Holiday, still a chance with Sixers

For Justin Holiday, still a chance with Sixers

July 8, 2013, 7:15 pm
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Justin Holiday played in nine games for the Sixers in April after averaging 17.3 points per game in 47 appearances for the Idaho Stampede of the D-League. (USA Today Images)

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."