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Holiday's career-best 33 points push 76ers past Suns

The SportsXchange

PHILADELPHIA -- Jrue Holiday earned some unwanted rest Saturday night, and he reaped the benefits Sunday night, scoring a career-high 33 points as the Philadelphia 76ers held off the Phoenix Suns 104-101.

The fourth-year point guard shot 13-for-21 from the floor and handed out 13 assists, helping the Sixers (8-6) snap a two-game losing streak. The double-double was Holiday's fifth of the season, and it came one night after he was limited by foul trouble to just under 37 minutes in an overtime loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

He said it was his turn to pick up the slack after watching his teammates slog through an exhausting game Saturday.

"I was a little upset with myself not being on the court last night," he said, "so I had to come out and be aggressive."

That's actually nothing new. Holiday is off to a strong start this season, and coach Doug Collins called him the Sixers' "primary guy," the player who handles the ball most of the time.

"I like having the flow of the game, or I guess the pressure of the game, in my hands," Holiday said. "Especially in games that come down to crunch time, I think I make the right plays."

He scored 20 of his points Sunday in the second half, when the Sixers were nonetheless outscored 60-58.

"Thank God Jrue was on today," Collins said. "He was fantastic. ... This was one of those games where I just kept looking at our coaches (and saying), 'We better keep scoring, because we're not stopping them.'"

Evan Turner added 16 points and nine rebounds for the Sixers.

Michael Beasley scored 21 points to pace Phoenix (6-8), but he missed a potential game-tying layup with three seconds left.

Marcin Gortat had 18 points for the Suns, whose two-game winning streak ended. Phoenix, playing the opener of a six-game losing streak, lost its third consecutive road game. The Suns are 1-5 away from home.

"I love the effort that we played with," Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry said. "It would've been a great (win) to start the road trip off with, but we have to figure out a way to stay and stick with the game plan and do a better job in (defensive) rotation."

The Sixers extended a five-point halftime lead to 80-70 late in the third quarter, but the Suns reeled off 11 straight points -- six by Luis Scola -- to go up 81-80 early in the fourth quarter. After an exchange of baskets, the Sixers went on a 7-0 flurry that included baskets by Thaddeus Young and Turner, plus a three-point play by Lavoy Allen.

That left the Sixers with an 89-83 lead with 8:02 remaining. Philadelphia extended its edge to 98-91 with 3:47 to play on Holiday's three-point play -- a play Collins called "spectacular." Holiday rebounded a missed 3-point attempt by teammate Jason Richardson and scored as he was fouled by Jared Dudley.

The Suns scored the game's next six points, on two layups by Beasley and a jumper by Jermaine O'Neal, to cut the gap to 98-97 with 1:06 left.

With the Sixers still clinging to a 102-101 lead and 14.8 seconds remaining, Holiday made a free throw to extend the advantage to two. Beasley then took an inbounds pass from Dudley and drove the lane against Turner, but the shot spilled out.

Turner grabbed the rebound and made the second of two foul shots with 1.9 seconds to play.

"I don't know how it came out, really, but it's exactly what we were trying to do," Gentry said of Beasley's shot. "We put him in a position to make a play for us, and he felt like he could get to the basket. He did a great job of getting there, shot it like it was going in, and for some reason, it just came out."

Allen had 11 points for the Sixers, and Young scored 10.

Sebastian Telfair scored 12 for the Suns, O'Neal had 11 and Goran Dragic finished with 10.

Holiday had 13 points and six assists in the first half, which concluded with the Sixers holding a 46-41 lead. Five of his points came late in the half, when Philadelphia went on a 10-2 run to erase a 39-36 deficit.

Turner added 10 points before halftime.

Beasley and Telfair had six apiece to pace the Suns in the first half.

NOTES: Richardson, who re-sprained his left ankle Saturday against the Thunder, started and scored eight points. He suffered the original injury Nov. 4 against New York. ... Sixers backup center Spencer Hawes also played, despite knee soreness. He scored six points. ... Seldom-used rookies Maalik Wayns and Arnett Moultrie made rare first-half appearances for the Sixers, and Collins said he is committed to giving them more time. "We've got to let them play through some mistakes," he said. "I want them to be aggressive mistakes, not mistakes where they're on their heels." Wayns wound up with seven points in seven minutes, while Moultrie had no points, rebounds or assists in seven minutes. ... Gentry continues to be concerned about the Suns' inability to defend 3-pointers. Entering Sunday's game, opponents were shooting a league-best 42.6 percent from the arc against Phoenix. "We've got to get them off that line," Gentry said before the game. The Sixers sank nine of their 19 3-point attempts (47.4 percent).
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