Collins finds some Holiday cheer in Sixers' loss in Toronto

Sixers' Elton Brand defends Raptors center David Andersen.
Sixers' Elton Brand defends Raptors center David Andersen.
Posted: October 15, 2010

If there's any doubt that the Sixers and coach Doug Collins have an eye toward the future, just look at the last play of regulation in the team's 119-116, double-overtime loss in Toronto on Wednesday night.

With the score 96-96, Collins called for second-year point guard Jrue Holiday to create for himself. Holiday's three-point jump shot fell short, and ultimately so did the Sixers in dropping their fourth of five preseason games.

"The good from that game was that Jrue had his best game. He did a terrific job," Collins said of Holiday, who posted a triple-double of 18 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds. His backcourt mate, rookie Evan Turner, also earned the praise of Collins with his 13 points and 12 rebounds, as did rookie Craig Brackins (15 points in 22 minutes).

"Those two guards are our leading rebounders this preseason, which is a really good sign because with our small lineup, we told everyone that they need to pitch in and rebound and those two have poured themselves into doing that.

"And Craig has just been terrific. His body still needs to get stronger for this league, but he does so many things well for us. We're excited about him."

As much of a positive as the younger players were on Wednesday, the glaring concern is still as noticeable as a turnover in the open court. With the absence of starting center Spencer Hawes due to a lower-back strain, the Sixers are very small with a starting frontcourt of Andre Iguodala, Thad Young and Elton Brand. The Toronto game didn't do anything to help ease Collins' concerns about his front line.

Iguodala had one point, took just three shots and grabbed three rebounds in 26 minutes, 30 seconds. Young had eight points and five rebounds in 22 minutes, while Brand collected 12 points and six rebounds in 32 minutes.

"The most worrisome thing for us, obviously is the front line," Collins said. "We miss a lot with Spencer being out. Now [Marreese Speights] strained his hamstring during the game and Tony Battie [knee] still isn't ready to go. So we're hurting with a lack of size down there. It's good in a sense that we can experiment with different things, but our lack of bulk up front is really showing."

As for Iguodala's skimpy numbers, Collins isn't all that concerned. "I think he's fine," the coach said. "He had a long summer with the U.S. team. I think he'll be ready in 2 weeks [the season opener]. We've had some very good stretches when he's been out there on the court and he's done a good job of lifting other guys on the court. And that is something we need from him."

A little more scoring would certainly help, also.

Six shots

Doug Collins said Marreese Speights has a mild right hamstring strain and can do some stationary shooting right now. The hope is that he'll be able to return to practice tomorrow . . . The last two preseason games are Tuesday against Cleveland in Cincinnati and Wednesday at home against the New York Knicks . . . The Sixers open the regular season on Oct. 27 at home against the Miami Heat.

For more Sixers coverage, read the

Daily News' Sixers blog, Sixerville,

at http://go.philly.com/sixerville.

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