Sixers players eager to take advantage of All-Star break

Posted: February 17, 2011

HOUSTON - Following last night's contest against the Houston Rockets, you could almost hear the "all clear" siren in the Sixers' locker room.

It was like the last day of school and the morning of Christmas all rolled into one. The reason for the euphoria? All-Star break. The players were free to go and do whatever they wanted before they are summoned back to work on Monday for a 6 p.m. practice at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Some of the guys will go home - Lou Williams to Atlanta, Evan Turner to Chicago, Jason Kapono to San Francisco - others will stay in the Philadelphia area to rest and gear up for the final 26 games of the season.

"There can be a bad time for a break, if you're kind of in a groove and winning a lot of games, but we have some guys a little banged up, and to kind of go and get a little fresher with a few days off, it comes at a good time," said forward Elton Brand, who plans to spend time with his family in Philly. "For me, it's good. I've been logging a lot of minutes this year, so I'm looking forward to a couple of days of rest and coming back strong."

Coach Doug Collins instituted one rule, however.

"Keep your weight down. That's the most important thing," Collins said. "It's going to be 26 games [left] and when you look at it, timewise, you're looking at the end of February, and the season ends April 13. You're talking about 6 weeks, so you can't come back and not be ready to go."

Collins and his wife are headed to Raleigh, N.C., to visit his son Chris and his family. They'll take in a game at Duke, where Chris is an assistant coach, and celebrate two of the grandchildren's birthdays.

"That's a perfect weekend," Collins glowed.

For Williams, the mental and physical strain of the season has taken a toll.

"I'm looking forward to this one, especially," said Williams, who will spend time with family in Atlanta "I really need this one. Years before, it was just a break and an opportunity to spend time with family. But I need it for my body this year. I've been getting beat up a little bit. I think this is one of my most important years being with a team, the amount of energy I've put in trying to be helpful and trying to help this team win. I think this has been one of those type of years where I've exerted a lot of energy."

Perhaps no Sixer will profit from the rest more than swingman Andre Iguodala, who has nursed a wrist injury and an Achilles' injury most of the season.

"I've had some injuries, and I've been trying to fight through them the whole year," Iguodala said. "It's a good time to relax this weekend and get focused and come back and help the team try to improve and play better."

No holiday for Jrue

Jrue Holiday, of course, will not reap the benefits of having a few off days. He is scheduled to take part in All-Star weekend in Los Angeles, his hometown. He will play tomorrow night in the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge and Youth Jam, pitting rookies against second-year players.

"I'm very excited for Jrue," Collins said. "He, to me, is one of the most improved players in the NBA. He's going home to play in LA. He's going to be around a lot of family and friends, and what I love about it is that he's going to get a chance to see the guys play on Sunday. And to just be around and see how they prepare and all that goes with being an All-Star and playing on Sunday gives you something that you really shoot for. I always said that you get a chance to play in that game and just get in the environment and see how it all works and the dynamics of everything, it makes you want more. Well deserving, and he's got a bright, bright future ahead." *

For more Sixers coverage, read the

Daily News' Sixers blog, Sixerville, at

www.philly.com/Sixerville.

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http://twitter.com/BobCooney76.

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