Tag Archives: Doug Collins

Holiday Comes Up Big For Sixers in Win over Phoenix

26 Nov

Sixers Point Guard scores a career-high 33 points with 13 Assists

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

Jrue Holiday gets to throw down a slam-dunk on Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic for two of his career-high 33 points. He also had 13 assists.

If there has been a consistent element to the Philadelphia 76ers offensive attack in this young season, it has been that point guard Jrue Holiday has been the straw that has stirred the drink.

In the Sixers 104-101 win over the Phoenix Suns Sunday night at the Wells Fargo Center, Holiday scored a career-high 33 points and dished out 13 assists to help his squad bounce back from a tough overtime loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder Saturday Night.

On a night when the Sixers had trouble stopping an offensive-minded Suns squad on defense, Holiday made plays on the offensive end in the fourth quarter that kept his team on top. He led all scorers for that quarter with nine points.

“Thank God, Jrue was on today,” said Sixers head coach Doug Collins. “He was fantastic with big plays—33 (points) and 13 (assists) with only two turnovers.  When he’s on the floor, we have the ball in his hands.”

One of Holiday’s biggest plays in the game was in the fourth quarter. With his team holding a four-point lead with the ball with 3:47 left, he secured the rebound from a missed three-pointer by Jason Richardson and then scored an old-school three-point play by making a layup and hitting the free-throw earned when he was fouled by Phoenix forward Jared Dudley.

“I just kind of went for it. Those are the times you see guys like (Russell) Westbrook and (Rajon) Rondo make plays in big moments. I felt like it was an opportunity to get a rebound that we needed,” Holiday said. “I like having the pressure of having the game in my hands, especially in games that come down to crunch time. I think I can make the right plays like we did tonight,”

Holiday’s free throw gave the Sixers a 98-91 lead that kept the Suns at arm’s length during a critical stretch of the fourth quarter.

“He got that great offensive rebound and that three-point play that pushed us back up by seven,” Collins said.

Holiday also got the Sixers big men involved in the offense. Forward Thaddeus Young scored 10 points while center Lavoy Allen dropped 11. While neither player is your typical big man, they are both capable scorers who can hit that 15-foot jump shot.

“We’ve got to continue to look for that punch-in guy because our guys are really not one that you’re going to throw it to them in the post and they’re going to make a lot of post moves. We just don’t have those kind of players,” Collins said. “Our guys are better at punching it and catching it with a quick shot.  I thought Young and Lavoy did a better job.”

But Allen and Young admit that they have to be more physical on both ends of the court in terms of scoring, playing defense and getting rebounds.

“I think it helps when we touch the ball even if we don’t shoot it,” Allen said. “Playing that inside-out game and finding the open shooter, helps us look for other guys,” Allen said.

Young said it’s important for he and Allen to be able to fill the void in the Sixers inside offense, especially since center Andrew Bynum is out indefinitely with a pair of injured knees.

“We have to because they’re going to chop our guards and they’re going to do certain things to take Jrue and Evan (Turner) out of the game,” Young said. “We have to step in fill those spots.”

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Sixers Bounce Back from Two-Game Skid with a Win over the Jazz

17 Nov

Jrue Holiday led the 76ers with 26 points and seven assists in the Sixers win over the Utah Jazz. Photo by Webster Riddick.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

After Wednesday ’s horrendous loss to the previously winless Detroit Pistons, the Philadelphia 76ers were determined to get back out on the floor against the Utah Jazz to get their groove back from a two-game losing streak.

The Sixers attacked Utah early and held off just about every charge the Jazz made at them in a 99-93 win in front of 15, 851 fans at the Wells Fargo Center.

“It was huge and it showed that we’re going to continue to go out there and fight until the end and we did a good job at holding our composure and going out there to get a win,” said shooting guard Jason Richardson.

Perhaps the key moment in a game for a Sixers team looking to get their swagger back was when the game was tied at 71-71  with 10:20 left in the game after a 7-0 scoring spurt by the Jazz open the fourth quarter. The Sixers outscored Utah 13-2 and kept them coming any closer than four points the rest of the way.

“You let that game slip away from you and stuff, it’s got a lot of repercussions,” Collins said. “Not only was it a game, it was a confidence builder. We still got a lot of new guys. I looked out on that floor at the end of that game, Richardson was out there, (Nick Young), we had guys never played with at that point in time (fourth quarter) in the season in a game that was on the line.”

Point guard Jrue Holiday had a stellar performance for the Sixers leading way with 26 points and seven assists. He said it was important for him to come out and shoot the ball well to get his teammates going. He scored 10 of his team’s of 30 points in the first quarter.

“I think had to come out aggressive, especially offensively,” Holiday. “We haven’t been scoring that well and picking up on defense. We were trying to get stops and get out on transition and did help early.”

Holiday said he liked the way his team didn’t wilt under the pressure of several Utah scoring spurts to get back in the game. After a week of tough losses, it was certainly a shot in the arm when they needed it.

“We had such a good lead that once they made their runs, they had to do a lot to get back even,” Holiday said. “Once they had their push, we pushed back.”

Before the game, Collins said the Sixers had to win the battle of the paint in both points and rebounding against a bigger athletic Utah squad. The 76ers scored the Jazz 42-38 in the paint, they outrebounded them (43-40) and they won the battle in second chance points (23-6).

Out of all the players who contributed to the Sixers both Lavoy Allen, who scored 10 points and pulled down eight rebounds, and veteran center Kwame Brown, who scored just two points and six rebounds in 23 minutes.

Collins said he was especially pleased with Brown’s defensive presence in the middle, especially down the stretch when the Jazz were trying to get back in the game.

“That’s why we got him,” Collins said. “I don’t care if he scores a basket. Kwame’s physical presence and what meant to us tonight. We don’t win this game without him tonight. There’s no way because we had to have two big strong guys (Allen) play a lot of minutes.”

Sixers 2012 Draft Picks Have Plenty of Upside

3 Jul

Both Arnett Moultrie (left) and Maurice Harkless (right) hope to crack the Sixers rotation as rookies during the 2012-13 season. Photo by Chris Murray

By Chris Murray

For the Sunday Sun and the Chris Murray Report

I’m not going to say the Sixers 2012 NBA Draft was the greatest thing since drafting Allen Iverson, but it wasn’t as bad as you would think.

But No. 1 pick Maurice “Mo” Harkless and No. 2 pick (obtained in a trade with the Miami Heat) Arnett Moultrie are far from the bottom of the barrel and appear to have plenty of upside.

Okay, I know you’re somewhat weary of 6-foot-6 to 6-8 tweener, slasher guard/forwards who can go the to the basket and can’t shoot a jump shot on a consistent basis—which includes guys like Andre Iguodala and Evan Turner, etc.

When I spoke to Doug Collins a day after the draft, I asked him about Harkless and his shooting ability. He told me that he has no doubt about his ability to hit the outside shot on a consistent basis.

“When you watch him shoot, his shot is not broken. That’s what you look for. Is he a guy who’s going to be able to make shots? “ Collins said. “At the end of the day, we think he’s going to be able to make shots. He didn’t shoot a lot of perimeter jump shots at the position he had to play.”

I’ll take Collins word for now only because I think he’s been around the game long enough to know his stuff and because Harkless did play at the power forward position at St. John’s where he was burdened with having to play at power forward potion against more physical players.

If Harkless is who Collins says he is, he could develop into that player. As a freshman, he did average 15 points per game and had a monster game at Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium, a tough place to play. Harkless, who was the Big East Rookie of the Year, scored 30 points in that game.

Meanwhile, the Sixers were also in desperate need of a young big man, an enforcer in the middle to play behind and eventually start ahead of an aging Elton Brand.

At 6-10 and 230 pounds, Moultrie might give the Sixers something they haven’t had in quite some time. A big man who can score and rebound in the paint while giving some space to their shooters to shoot or drive to the basket. With talk of Brand getting the amnesty tag, you may end seeing Moultrie a lot sooner than later.

At the collegiate level, Moultrie averaged 16.4 points and 10.4 rebounds per game in his last year at Mississippi State. Here’s a guy who doesn’t mind doing the hard work to get rebounds and mix it up in the paint on the offensive end. He can also run the floor as well..

Watching film on him, Moultrie looks like he has good range as a shooter. He shot 44 percent from three-point range (8-of-18), but didn’t take that many shots from out there. He also showed that he can maneuver in the low post, but will probably need to learn even more moves when goes up against even stronger forwards in the league.

Just like Lavoy Allen last season, Collins said both Harkless and Moultrie will have an opportunity to crack the rotation and get some minutes on the floor if they come in and work hard. In the Sixers playoff series against the Celtics, Allen was a thorn in the side of future-Hall of-Famer Kevin Garnett.

“We’ve got six bigs. Well, there’s 96 minutes,” Collins said. “The one thing that I promised them that I said to Lavoy and Nick (Vucevic) last year is that I have an organization here …that give me the freedom to play who I think needs to be out there to win a game and I told them that Lavoy was out there as the 50th pick to finish games for us.”

The Sixers, in my mind, did address some need with the draft, their next mission is free agency where I think they need a veteran shooter, but also a guy at the point guard spot that can show Jrue Holiday how that position is played.

“We’d like to add someone who can add some shooting to our team because we’re very young,” Collins said. “Could we add a veteran that is a good locker room guy that’s going to come in and be a mentor, not only can he play, can he mentor them and so those guys can be very invaluable.”

I know one off the top of my head that would be perfect for that role …Can you say Jameer Nelson? More on that later.

No Moral Victories: Confident Sixers Are Coming into Game 7 Expecting to Beat Boston

24 May

By Chris Murray

For the Sunday Sun

Now that the Philadelphia 76ers are preparing for Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal matchup with the Boston Celtics, head coach Doug Collins doesn’t want to hear anything about playing with “house” money or anything about a moral victory for getting this far in the playoffs.

Collins, who played in these kinds of games in his own playing career, wants more than just take home the consolation prize for merely showing up. After watching his team force a Game  7 with a tenacious performance on both ends of the floor in their 82-75  win over Boston, he believes his team is ready to take the next step.

“I want more, I’m willing to get greedy and we want more,” Collins said. “We’ve fought, we’ve worked and we’ve gone through a lot as a team. We’ve grown. … Our mindset is I don’t want to go into that game with no matter what happens, everything’s okay. I want to go into the game with the idea of let’s see what we can do, let’s see if we can get us a win.”

Andre Iguodala certainly shares Collin’s view of playing Boston in Game 7. He scored  13 points including a thunderous slam dunk that seemed to energize the Sixers players and the crowd  in the third quarter. Iguodala also hit a pair of clutch free-throws late in the game that kept the Sixers in the lead.

“If we were just happy to be here, then we could have just given up (Wednesday night) and saved ourselves a trip to Boston,” Iguodala said. “That’s one thing about our team is that we believe in ourselves. Each game from here on out is only going to enhance our careers, knowing what it takes to get to each different level. We’re taking it one game at a time and we’re playing confident.”

The Sixers will play the Celtics in Boston Saturday night in the decisive Game 7 to see which teams will go to the Eastern Conference Finals to play the winner of the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers.

If the Sixers can keep taking the ball to the basket the way they did against the Celtics in Game 6, they will certainly have more than a puncher’s chance of advancing to the next round. Point guard Jrue Holiday played arguably his best game of the series.

He scored 20 points including a huge basket that put the 76ers up by 11 with 3:15 left and hitting two free-throws late in the game to put the final nail in the Celtics coffin for game 6. He also dished out six assists.

“I was very proud of Jrue Holiday (Wednesday),” said Collins, who showed his team clips of the Sixers Game 7 road win over the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals back in 1982 the day before Game 6. “He stayed in attack mode. He knows what he needs to score for us. He did a great job of that.”

Another player the player the Sixers will be counting on Game 7 will be power forward Elton Brand, who played 34 minutes in Game 6 and scored 13 points while pulling down 10 rebounds. He did yeoman’s work helping to defend Boston’s Kevin Garnett.Brand also did some scoring inside the paint as well.

“Everything’s a learning process and we’re seeing how imperative it is to have home court advantage,” Brand said. “Now we’re going on the road. It’s going to be tough. We know we have to battle, but we’re going to have to find a way.”

One of those ways is trying to stop Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo. The Sixers kept Rondo from penetrating in the low post and held him to nine points and six assists in Game 6.

“Our communication was a lot better,”Iguodala said. “They’ve been sending their pick and rolls deeper. Our bigs ended up doing a better job of communicating what they want to do defensively.”

After six tough games with the up and coming Sixers, Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said the most difficult thing about playing the 76ers is having to deal with the youth and their speed.

“Well, they’re athletic,” Rivers said. “They play with a lot of energy and it’s very difficult for our guy. We knew this matchup coming in would be hard because they have a quickness advantage and we understand that.”

The Sixers are hoping to use any advantage get for Game 7.

Notes—Former Sixers guard Allen Iverson carried the ceremonial game ball for Game 6 into the Wells Fargo Center. He was given a thunderous standing ovation by the sellout crowd of 20, 402 fans who showered him with chants of “MVP.”

Sixers Huge Comeback Stuns Boston, Evens Eastern Semis at 2-2

19 May

 

Lou Williams came up big for the Sixers in their win over the Boston Celtics in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

Whenever the Philadelphia 76ers have had a bad game in the playoffs, they’ve always found a way to bounce back in a series. Down to two games to one in their best of seven second-round series against the Boston Celtics, the Sixers were in another situation where they had to come hard to get back in it.

Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinal against the Celtics, the Sixers streak of coming back from tough playoff losses was in serious jeopardy and they were on the verge of  being in a deep 3-1 hole in the best-of-seven series.

But the Sixers are not only alive, they are well and are back on even footing with the Celtics.

In a game where the Sixers were down 15-0 to start the game, shot an atrocious 23 percent (9-of-39) from the field after the first half and trailed by as many 18 points early in the third quarter, Doug Collins young team managed to somehow even their best of seven Eastern Conference semifinal with an amazing 92-83 comeback victory over the stunned Celtics in front of a packed house at the Wells Fargo Center.

“We’re never discouraged,” said Sixers forward Thaddeus Young. “We knew that when we shot that poorly that we couldn’t keep shooting that poorly. We just said keep doing what we been doing. When we shot like that in the first half, it wasn’t just jump shots. We were trying to get it in the paint and we had to keep imposing our will in the game. We had to keep following the game plan. It’s just a matter of making shots. We did a better job of getting ourselves more open in the second half than we did in the first.”

With his team on the brink of a deep 3-1 hole, Collins kept exhorting his team to hang in a game where inside baskets and going to the free-throw line was an adventure, bordering on a disaster movie for the Sixers  in the first half.

“I just kept telling our guys, ‘we’re going to keep battling,” Collins said. “Something’s good going to happen here…We came out in that fourth quarter and we executed. We moved the ball around, we didn’t turn the ball over and we made some big shots.”

The Sixers were able to bounce back in the second half thanks to their defense and their bench, especially with the starters struggling to find the basket. Sixers guard Louis Williams gave the Sixers a spark of the bench with his scoring 13 of his 15 points in the second half. He also had eight assists including a big dime to Andre Iguodala, who knocked down a three-point bucket to put the Sixers up by five points with a 36.9 left in the game. The Sixers closed the game on a 9-0 run.

“When we were bleeding, Lou has that capability,” Collins said. “Lou made some big shots and then he made a huge pass. He was shooting the ball so well that he got in the paint and he kicked it out to Dre (Iguodala) and put us up five.”

Rookie Lavoy Allen (eight points and 10 rebounds) and Young, who scored 12 points, pulled 10 rebounds and three assists, provided the muscle for the Sixers in the interior grabbing rebounds, playing defense and passing the ball on the offensive end. Thanks to Allen and Young, the Sixers managed to save several possessions by dominating the offensive boards out-rebounding Boston 17-5.

The Sixers also forced 17 turnovers and got 27 fast break points. In the third quarter, the Sixers knocked down that 18-point deficit by going a 15-2 scoring spurt to trail by just five with 5:22 left in the third quarter.

“They sped us up a little bit and we were taking quick shots,” said Celtics point Rajon Rondo. “I guess we made some turnovers in that stretch and they made shots.”

But Boston increased the deficit to nine with 4:07 left, but the Sixers closed out the quarter on a 10-5 spurt to cut the deficit to four going into fourth quarter.

“I thought coming out of halftime, really I thought they just came out and became more physical,” said Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. “We took it away from ourselves, they took it away, too.We did more than settle for (jump shots) We stopped running our stuff.”

The much-maligned Iguodala also came up big for the Sixers, scoring 13 of his 16 points in the second half. He was 3-for-3 from three-point range including that dagger of a trey that put the Celtics away for good.

Reality Check: Sixers Hang With the Heat For Three Quarters Before Getting Knocked out in the Fourth

4 Feb

Andre Iguodala scored 10 points in loss to Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Sunday Sun.

The setting for Friday’s game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Miami Heat at the Wells Fargo Center seemed more like the NBA’s postseason in April or May than a regular season game in early February.

One indication of the electricity in the air was the fact that there wasn’t an empty seat to be found as the Sixers sold out their home court for the first time this season.

While some fans undoubtedly came out to see Miami’s big three, the vast majority came out to see if the young Sixers could somehow pull out a win against one of the favorites to win the NBA Finals.

For the youthful Sixers, it was another chance to prove that they are among league’s best teams. Taking on the Heat’s superstar trio of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh wasn’t going to be an easy task for the Atlantic Division-leading Sixers (16-7).

As it turned out, the Sixers discovered that they still have a lot of growing and a lot of learning to do as the Heat (17-6) turned a close game into a devastating display of their awesome talent in their 99-79 victory over the upstart 76ers in front of 20, 694 disappointed fans.

For  the first three quarters  , the Sixers hung with the highly-touted Heat and tied the game at 61-61 on a jumper from the corner by rookie Lavoy Allen with 2:25 left in the third quarter. But from there, the Heat outscored the Sixers 38-18 the rest of the way and turned their homecourt into their own personal playground.

“We could never really make the push that we were hoping to be able to make,” said Sixers head coach Doug Collins. “Lebron hits one of those at the end of the third quarter that are momentum shots, puts them to four. We missed a couple of shots Mike Miller hits a three and a layup, so in three possessions we go from one to nine and then we’re playing uphill. They just overwhelmed us in the fourth quarter.”

The Heat came into the game with a chip on their shoulders after blowing a fourth quarter in a road loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday. There were no fourth quarter breakdowns against the Sixers.

“This was a very good win against a very good team that has been playing well,” said Miami head coach Erik Spoelestra.

Wade led the Heat with 26 points while James added 19 and Chris Bosh poured in 12. Players like Miller, who scored 12 points, Mario Chalmers (13 points) and rookie Norris Cole, who had 12 points were the ones hitting the shots that ultimately buried the Sixers in a hole from which they could not recover.

The Sixers were woefully inconsistent on the offensive end. They shot just 39 percent from the field and their seven turnovers led to 14 points for Miami. Power forward Elton Brand was held scoreless on 0-of-3 shooting. Thaddeus Young led all Sixers scorers with 16 points.

“It’s definitely a damper, but I’m looking at it like it was one bad quarter of basketball,” Brand said. “We were right there. It could have been a fight to the finish, but they got in the open court, got some layups, got some threes with Mike Miller and Cole hit a few threes. I think it was a bad quarter of basketball other than that, I think we’re fine. We just got tighten up the ship.”

Young said the most important lesson the Sixers got out of this loss is that they can’t afford momentary lulls in execution against a that knows how to make teams pay for their miscues. He said once Miami got it in gear they were difficult to stop.

“It tells us the that we have to minimize our mistakes,” Young said. “We have to take good shots and we have to make shots because those guys can crank it up any time. Once one gets going, it’s like one of those snowball effects where it keeps coming and keeps coming.”

 

 

Young Sixers Hope to Prove Themselves to Fans against NBA Heavyweights

26 Jan

Thaddeus Young and Sixers teammates will get tested against the NBA's elite. Photo by Webster Riddick.

By Chris Murray

For The Chris Murray Report and The Sunday Sun

The Philadelphia 76ers are in first place in the NBA’s Atlantic Division and are the only team in that division with a record above .500

But for all of the newfound success that this young team has had, I get the feeling that the city isn’t completely behind them yet. Don’t get me wrong. The fans that come out to Wells Fargo Center are loud and boisterous. But they’ve only had one sellout since the home opener.

That might be because the teams they’ve beaten for the most part are also-rans. This weekend, the Sixers take on the Charlotte Bobcats and the Detroit Pistons, teams that are hardly world beaters.

But the team’s big tests come later this week in the form of the Miami Heat, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Chicago Bulls and the Orlando Magic, teams that are laden with superstars. While it’s been easy to have at least five guys routinely score in double figures, teams with actual defenses will determine whether or not this is a fluke.

Between Jan. 30 and Feb. 10 the Sixers will face the Magic, the Bulls, the Atlanta Hawks (on the road), the Lakers, San Antonio Spurs and an improved Los Angeles Clippers squad. If they can win at least half of these games, it might attract fans to the Wells Fargo Center.

But even if they don’t, this team still deserves some love from the Philly faithful.

While they may be in first place in their division, I still think the Sixers are a work in progress. As a part of that growth, they’re probably going to lose some of the games. But they’re not going to stink up the joint like they would have in years past…mostly because head coach Doug Collins won’t allow them to.

At this point, the Sixers are not expected to get to the NBA Finals or even the Eastern Conference Finals, but you have to like the unselfish way they’re playing this season. Almost every night a different player seems to lead the team in scoring or makes a big play down the stretch. One night it’s Andre Iguodala or Lou Williams.

“For one thing, we can score,” said Sixers point guard Jrue Holiday earlier this month after a win over the Indiana Pacers. “We know each other really well as a team and that’s really it. It’s our chemistry. We don’t really have a go-to guy. The way we win is by playing as a team and everybody scoring and playing defense collectively.”

With their record, the Sixers are beating up on the bad teams, something that good teams should do on a consistent basis. When they met the Miami Heat on the road last Saturday, they hung in the game until late in third quarter when the Heat went on a 23-8 scoring-spurt to put the Sixers in a deep hole.

This group of young Sixers is probably the best this city has seen in quite some time, at least to this point. That’s the fun part about this team is that they are at the beginning stages of becoming a perennial contender in the NBA.

To be sure, the Sixers are going to take their knocks against some of the league’s tougher teams, but I believe that this team will get better, whether it’s with young veteran players like Williams and Thaddeus Young, or via the trade or free agency route.

I can understand the cynics and skeptics in this city who want the Sixers to get to the point where they’re a contender for an NBA title. All I can say to them is be patient and enjoy the ride.