Pargo drawing buzz from Sixers and fans

Pargo drawing buzz from Sixers and fans

February 10, 2013, 3:45 pm
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How’s this for a debut?

Midway through the third quarter of the Sixers’ 87-76 victory over the lowly Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday night, a pocketful of fans at the Wells Fargo Center rose to their feet and bellowed a name that sounded as if it was made especially for chanting …

“PAR-GO! PAR-GO! PAR-GO!”

And with that, the Jeremy Pargo era began in Philadelphia.

Pause.

OK, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here. Undoubtedly, Jeremy Pargo had an eye-opening debut for the Sixers on Saturday night, playing in the first game during the second day of a first 10-day contract. With 12 points on 4-for-9 shooting with four rebounds and six assists in 29 minutes, it was difficult not to get excited about the future journeyman.

Besides, a few more outings like the one he produced on Saturday night and Pargo isn’t going to get a second 10-day contract, the Sixers are going to have to sign the point guard for the remainder of the season.

“He’s got good instincts and he’s tough,” coach Doug Collins said of Pargo. “Also, he played very good defense.”

Still, Pargo wasn’t exactly Willie Burton out there. Anyone remember him? Burton played 53 games for the Sixers during the 1994-95 season and averaged 15.3 points per game. Of course that average was skewed by a 53-point performance against the Miami Heat on Dec. 13, 1994, that will forever be the record for most points scored in a game at the Spectrum.

Yes, Willie Burton. They chanted his name that night, too.

Nevertheless, with one game and one practice under his belt, it appears as if Pargo is going to play a significant little role with the Sixers. In piling on 29 minutes in his first NBA action in nearly a month, Pargo was often teamed in the same backcourt as Jrue Holiday, which allowed Collins to move the All-Star off the ball to the two-guard spot. Through the first 49 games of the season, Holiday not only commanded all of the attention on offense as the team’s lone facilitator and top scoring option, but he was also the focus on defense, too. When the opposition set up its pick-and-roll offense, Holiday bore the brunt of it, which over 40 minutes of action a night, has taken a toll.

During the second half of Saturday night’s game, Holiday didn’t have to worry about being the facilitator. Instead, he could just focus on scoring and ended up getting 14 of his game-high 20 points in the final two quarters.

Don’t think that Holiday didn’t notice.

“Sometimes it’s nice to just be the second guy,” Holiday said about playing alongside of Pargo. “I can spot up in the corner for a three and things like that. It was comfortable and it felt really good.”

Surprisingly, Pargo got comfortable, too. A day after his very first practice with the Sixers and in his first game action since being released by Cleveland, Pargo was a little surprised to get 29 minutes against some pretty tough guards like Ben Gordon and Ramon Sessions.

Actually, Pargo seemed to get stronger the more he played. At one point during the Sixers’ game-breaking run of the third quarter, Pargo drove to the hoop, hit the layup as he was fouled and gave a wink to a fan sitting in the front row as his momentum carried him past the baseline.

That’s his game, Pargo said.

“But that’s what you want, isn’t it?” Pargo said. “I was happy with it, and the biggest thing is we got a win. That’s the most important thing.”

With just two more games before the All-Star break, Pargo likely will be thrown into the mix again. For one thing, he meshed well with and got a ringing endorsement from Holiday. That is sure to resonate with Collins.

 “It’s a lot easier,” Holiday said about Pargo. “He gets into the paint and makes [the defense] collapse. He gets people open shots and he gets to the basket -- he’s a playmaker. Getting to the paint is one of the most crucial things.”

Oh yes, Collins gets that.

“We ran [Holiday] off some stuff. Rather than him fight when we bring up the ball, we ran him off screens and on one he got a basket when Jeremy found him backdoor,” Collins said. “Jrue usually doesn’t get easy baskets. I think it kept him fresh and I think it was the best half Jrue has had in some time.”  

Moreover, the Sixers’ remaining games are against the Clippers on Monday night, which means a guard-heavy lineup featuring All-Star Chris Paul, as well as Wednesday night’s first-half finale against the Bucks with starting guard tandem Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings.

Jennings has chopped up the Sixers in two previous games this season.

So expect Pargo to get a few more minutes over the next couple of games. Don’t expect a Burton-esque performance to set a new building record, but who knows, maybe the upcoming performances will be worthy of another roar from the crowd.

“PAR-GO! PAR-GO! PAR-GO!”