Holiday not losing confidence

Posted: February 20, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS - Jrue Holiday hasn't lost confidence in Jrue Holiday and Doug Collins hasn't lost confidence in him, either.

Though Holiday entered last night's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves having made just one of his 17 shots in the previous two games (losses to Orlando and Dallas), he wasn't worried about his lack of offensive output.

He and his coach believe they know what the solution is: For Holiday to drive hard to the basket and look to get to the foul line. But can he do that in the flow of the game without disrupting the team too much?

"I guess you kind of take what the defense gives you," Holiday said. "You don't always want to just force it. There are times when you can get in there a little more. You don't have to get all the way into the paint to still draw attention or get contact. Like Lou [Williams] does. Lou's not always in the paint when he does that. But just being aggressive that way is what coach is talking about.

"I think there's been a couple of games where I haven't [been aggressive]. But the Charlotte game and the Cleveland game I did it. The Orlando game I was shooting too many jump shots. I should have taken it in more. It doesn't weigh on me. If I go 1-for-9 in a game and we win, it doesn't bother me. But Lou can't be the only person getting to the line. I'm going to take up some of those free-throw attempts. And I think by me being aggressive and getting into the paint - sometimes forcing stuff - will open it up for everyone else."

In wins against Cleveland and Charlotte, Holiday started scoring early, and had a combined 39 points. That was followed by games against the Mavericks and Magic in which he scored a total of six points while shooting that horrid 1-for-17.

Holiday was active early last night, accumulating six points and two each of assists, steals and rebounds in the first 6 minutes of the game as the Sixers opened an 11-point lead. He never stopped, either, finishing with a team-high 20 points on 10-for-20 shooting in the Sixers' 92-91 loss.

"I think Jrue maybe has been trying to wear two hats, thinking about getting everyone else involved in the game and score [himself]," said Collins. "I need him to score. With our team, looking back on our success this year, when he and Lou score, it's really big for our team.

"If you look at the two games we started on the road, Charlotte and Cleveland, Jrue got us off to great starts in both of those games. I want him to look to be more of a scorer. I don't know if there was some indecision on his part or maybe not understanding exactly what he needed to do for us at that particular time. I want him thinking score, to start the game."

Familiar foe

One of the bigger surprises for the Timberwolves this season has been the play of second-year center Nikola Pekovic, who is averaging 12.4 points while shooting 61.7 percent from the floor and averaging seven rebounds a game.

Sixers rookie Nikola Vucevic, who played with Pekovic on the Montenegrin national team for 2 years, isn't surprised.

"We talk pretty often, we're pretty good friends," said Vucevic. "He's been playing well lately, he's a good player. I knew he was capable of that. It was just a matter of him getting used to the NBA game.

"He uses his body really well and he gets in good position and he's very strong. What he likes to do is get people close to the basket and just go right up. He knows what he does well and he knows what he doesn't do so well, so he just tries to do his best. He's a tough matchup because he's so strong. If you help [on someone else] and you try to recover, he's so strong he'll get into you first and then it's really hard to stop him from there."

Pekovic was a beast last night, going for 17 points and nine rebounds with 13 of his points coming in the second half.

Coach happy

Despite having won just two of the last six games heading into last night,Doug Collins said he was happy with his team.

"I am exceptionally proud of our guys right now," Collins said before the game. "We have fought so hard the first half of the season and we've played a brutal stretch of games at home and on the road this month. I don't want, in any way, for our guys to lose the positive energy that they've had. Sometimes when you get into a stretch when you've lost some tough games, I just don't want that [bad feeling] to creep into our guys. I think at this time really going into the break, positive energy and good feelings about how we've worked and where we are right now [are important] and we can see how we can finish up going into the All-Star break. This is a time where we talked about that mental fatigue. We've got to get through that. If you bring a lot of positive energy, you can get through that."