CHICAGO Jrue Holiday looks smooth, if not in slow motion when he is orchestrating the Sixers offense.
Evan Turner is quite the opposite. He attacks the basket with reckless abandon and pulls up for mid-range jumpers with bravado.
Both young players had a huge hand in the Sixers evening their first-round best-of-seven series with the Bulls at 1-1.
The starting backcourt combo combined for 19-for-30 shooting for 45 points and they handed out 12 assists. Furthermore, they played in perfect tandem, Holiday making his first six shots, Turner scoring 11 points in a decisive third quarter.
I think we feed off each other, Holiday said. He is a facilitator and makes plays. I make plays too. His vision is really good so if I am cutting back door or am open on a fastbreak he always sees that. One thing I learned at UCLA is playing without the ball and getting to open space.
Jrue, during intros, was really excited, Turner recalled. Hes a scorer so once he gets the ball and attacks hes all good. He felt good and I just kept attacking. I figured I was just going to battle the whole time whether I missed shots or not.
Doug Collins appreciated both players contributions.
The one thing with Jrue is he has to stay on the attack. I dont want him to think like a true point guard, Collins said. I want him to think like a scoring point guard, like a Deron Williams or somebody like that because with our starting unit I need he and Dre Iguodala and EB Brand to get that group off to a good start.
He has been in a really good attack mode and the thing I am happy about is that he didnt have a great shooting night in Game 1 and he came out and he shot the ball, Collins said. Thats what I tell our guys: shoot the ball. You are playing for a coach who would shoot the ball. Pistol Pete Maravich was my hero and I heard him say once if you missed 10 in a row and you are a 50 percent shooter somewhere along the way you are going to make 10 in a row. Jrue was spectacular. He had six assists, no turnovers, 26 points.
It is really whatever helps the team, Holiday said. I know there are times when other guys get off, like when Jodie Meeks is playing and shooting well and Dre is shooting well, then I am more of a facilitator and that is OK. But today was my day. The basket was as big as the ocean and everything fell in.
Holidays 26 points were a career playoff high for the third year guard. Meanwhile Turners 19 points and six assists were playoff career highs. Turner enjoys the bright lights on the big stage.
People always tell you about guys who always disappear in big moments and I never ever wanted to be that type of guy, Turner said. When it comes to big games, I just want to play good, be there and help my teammates as much as I can.
Evan played great, Brand said. He is an all-around player. He can rebound for us, score the ball for us, pass the ball, distribute the ball and play defense. He did it all tonight and that is what we needed out of him.
Its what I love about Evan, he feels like he is the best player in the gym and I love that, Collins said. I know he made some ill-timed comments and he has been booed every time he catches the ball and it is like he is using that in a very positive way. Some guys maybe would cower away from that but Evan has risen to the challenge. I am not big on guys doing a lot of talking but I like the way he is playing.
The talking Collins referred to was Turner saying before the playoffs began that the Bulls would be an easier opponent than the Heat. Chicago natives are still booing him whenever they can during the course of the games.
Boos dont bother me, Turner said. It bothers the people that care about me like my mom, my family and my best friend. It really bothered them but giving them an opportunity to cheer meant more to me. Actually, none of that stuff bothers me at all.
Collins inserted Turner and Spencer Hawes back into the starting lineup on Tuesday. They had been reserves in the previous 11 games, including Game 1 of the series. Prior to that, Turner had started 18 straight games, in which the team went 7-11.
Turner wasnt happy when he was taken out of the starting lineup but for the most part, he played the role of a good soldier with the exception of bad body language, though when times were tough he was hardly alone in wearing his emotions on his sleeve.
I just kept working, Turner said. I wanted to have an impact in the playoffs. I knew I could play in the playoffs. I couldnt worry about it. I just wanted to get better as a basketball player whether I played another minute in April or not. I just wanted to get better as a basketball player. I understand its a career. Its not like a one-year thing so I just wanted to keep working as a basketball player.
Maybe it is the matchup with Chicago or maybe Turner really did get better in certain areas over the last three weeks but if the question is still: can Iguodala, Turner and Holiday be a formidable productive perimeter unit? The answer on Tuesday was an absolute yes.
More then anything, Evan and myself are lengthy on the defensive end, Iguodala said. Rip Hamilton is pretty quick and he might be able to get the same type of looks out there with Meeks or Evan but Evan is a little bit longer and Evan tries to pressure him a little bit so we try to use that to our advantage and rebound the ball.
What had been a problem in the regular season and Game 1 turned into a positive in Game 2, with the Sixers winning the rebounding battle by six, which led to their lopsided fastbreak points margin of 25-8.
When we rebound the ball, Evan and myself, we can push the ball and get out on the break and finish pretty well and it started with that in the third, Iguodala said.
The Sixers have an opportunity in front of them. They can win this series and advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in five tries over the last nine years.
Coming into this series the topic that dominated conversations was how the Sixers were going to handle the unbelievably talented play of Derrick Rose. Now that conversation has shifted, what can the Bulls do to slow down the guard play of the Sixers, who, including Lou Williams, scored 65 of the teams 109 points?
E-mail Dei Lynam at firstname.lastname@example.org