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Holiday's clutch shooting helps 76ers win

The SportsXchange

PHILADELPHIA - Philadelphia 76ers point guard Jrue Holiday went to the foul line with 1:22 left Monday night, with his team holding a tenuous 98-95 lead over the Detroit Pistons.

He missed both shots.

But when the Sixers regained possession, Holiday did not hesitate to pull the trigger once again, hitting a jumper that helped his team nail down a 104-97 victory.

The emerging star scored 12 of his 25 points in the last eight minutes, as the Sixers held on to avenge a 94-76 home loss to Detroit on Nov. 14.

"He felt it was time to take over, and he just went at it," teammate Thaddeus Young said of Holiday.

"I'm so happy with Jrue, coming down the stretch," Sixers coach Doug Collins said. "We put him in some pick-and-rolls, and he made all the right decisions."

Holiday scored 21 points in the second half, and he also finished with eight assists.

Young added 20 points and Evan Turner had 18 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists for Philadelphia (12-9). Spencer Hawes finished with 15 points and eight boards.

Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight had 22 points apiece for Detroit (7-16), which has dropped three of its last four. Rodney Stuckey added 19.

A jumper by Jason Richardson with 5:04 left snapped a 91-91 tie, and Philadelphia scored 13 of the game's last 19 points. Holiday had six of his points in that run, including jumpers with 1:53 and 39.6 seconds left that extended a three-point lead to five each time.

It was the latter jumper that made an impression on Collins, because it came immediately after the two misses at the line - part of a 12-for-23 foul-shooting effort by the Sixers.

"You always worry (when) a guy goes to the line and misses a couple free throws," Collins said, "how he's going to respond, but he came down and hit a huge jump shot."

Asked why he felt compelled to fire right after he had come up empty, Holiday said, "Because I missed the free throws, pretty much. I'm not the best free throw shooter, but both of those felt pretty good. Once I let the ball go (on the jumper), I knew that was going in, too."

Of his second-half performance, he said, "I think I was a lot more aggressive. Came off looking for my shot. . . . I was knocking it in."

Trailing 80-78 earlier in the period, the Sixers went on an 11-4 run that included two baskets by Holiday and two others by Turner. That left them with an 89-84 lead, but Detroit rallied, eventually tying it at 91-91 on a 3-pointer by Charlie Villanueva with 5:25 to play.

Tayshaun Prince scored 12 of his 16 points in the first half, which ended with Detroit holding a 49-46 lead. Monroe and Stuckey added 11 apiece, while Thaddeus Young topped the Sixers with 10.

The Sixers then notched the first 14 points of the third quarter, five of those by Holiday, to go up 60-49. But Detroit rallied behind Monroe, who scored seven points in 50 seconds at one point, and had nine in the period.

The Pistons finally overtook the Sixers when Stuckey sank a pair of free throws with 23.7 seconds left in the period, giving Detroit a 75-74 lead. But a jumper by Hawes with 0.9 of a second remaining put Philadelphia back in front.

"In the moment of truth - the last six minutes of the fourth quarter - we have to be cleaner and sharper," Detroit coach Lawrence Frank said. "The objective is to win the game. Holiday got away from us a couple times."

NOTES: Sixers center Andrew Bynum, who has yet to play this year because of bone bruises to both knees, said before the game he will be examined by doctors Dec. 20. He added that while it is "obviously a possibility" that he won't return before the end of the season, he doesn't believe that will be the case. "I really think I'll be fine," he said. His right knee, injured in September, feels "really, really good," he said. But he continues to be bothered by pain in his left knee, which he injured while bowling last month. He said the "worst-case scenario" after the examination is that it will be another month before he is able to resume basketball activities. "Best-case scenario," he said, "I can ramp it up." ... Frank said the Sixers have been "tremendous" without Bynum, and that his return will vault them "to another stratosphere." ... Sixers guard Nick Young returned, after missing the previous four games with a toe injury. ... Jason Maxiell finished with 11 rebounds for the Pistons.
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