Holiday powers Pelicans in return to Philadelphia
PHILADELPHIA — The crowd greeted Jrue Holiday with a warm ovation in the All-Star's first trip back to Philadelphia since the 76ers traded him to the Pelicans over the summer.
Holiday returned the favor by putting on a show with 20 points and 13 assists, leading New Orleans to a 121-105 victory on Friday night.
"It's fun being back and the crowd showing me a little bit of love," Holiday said. "I didn't hear too many boos, so that's a little surprising, but definitely a good thing.
"Just cause it's Philly, anything can happen, especially with the boos. You just never know. I'm glad it was a good quote-unquote welcome back."
Eric Gordon scored 26 points and Holiday added seven rebounds as the Pelicans (7-8) snapped a four-game road skid.
Holiday, an All-Star last season for the Sixers, was sent to New Orleans in a deal that netted Philadelphia No. 6 overall pick Nerlens Noel and a future first-rounder.
"It's great Jrue did well," said Sixers forward Evan Turner, a teammate of Holiday's for three seasons. "Obviously we wanted a win. A guy like Jrue, you want him on your side, but once again, I wish nothing but success for him and for him to keep growing as he is."
Tony Wroten scored 24 points on 9-for-13 shooting off the bench, and Spencer Hawes contributed 12 points and nine boards for the 76ers (6-11). Wroten (lower back) and Hawes (knee) both played for the first time in three games, but Philadelphia lost for the ninth time in its last 11.
"They're a good team," Sixers coach Brett Brown said. "They're a hard team for us to guard. I think at times when we tried to extend the defense and press, they went through it and they had success at the back end, even when we went through the press."
Missed opportunities plagued the Sixers. On one possession in the third quarter, James Anderson missed three straight open 3-pointers after Thaddeus Young grabbed consecutive offensive rebounds. After the third miss, Young pulled down another offensive board and drew a foul going back up, but he missed both free throws.
The Sixers were a miserable 9 for 21 (43 percent) at the free throw line. Conversely, the Pelicans were 11 for 14 (79 percent) on free throws.
"We still gave up 105 points," Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. "From my standpoint, you give up 30 points in the first quarter, there's a lot to be desired. But it is a lineup that can cause problems, we just have to learn how to defend and share the ball better."
New Orleans took a 12-point lead late in the second quarter on Anthony Davis' fast-break layup after a steal by Holiday to cap off a 15-2 run.
The Sixers responded with a pair of 3-pointers and an 8-2 run of their own to end the half down 61-55.
Gordon and Ryan Anderson led the Pelicans at the break with 11 points apiece. Turner also had 11, including three of the Sixers' nine first-half 3-pointers. They went cold in the second half, making just three from beyond the arc.
New Orleans shot 55 percent from the field, including 8 for 20 (40 percent) on 3-pointers.
Just two weeks ago, the Pelicans clobbered the Sixers in a 135-98 affair in New Orleans. Friday's game marked the final of two meetings between the clubs this season.
"I'm gonna be for real, I'm glad we beat 'em twice," Holiday said. "Obviously it's good to see old teammates, it's great to come back here and feel the love from the fans, but it feels good to beat them."
NOTES: The Sixers allowed their opponent triple-digit points for the 15th time in 17 games. ... Hawes' double-double streak ended at three games. ... Sunday, the Sixers face the Pistons in Detroit and the Pelicans play the Knicks in New York.