PHILADELPHIA -- After four successful seasons and one All-Star appearance, point guard Jrue Holiday expected to continue that momentum with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2013-14.
As Holiday discovered on draft night, even All-Stars get traded.
Holiday was shipped to the New Orleans Pelicans as part of a draft-night deal that included center Nerlens Noel going to the Sixers.
When Holiday's agent called him on draft night, the shock was immediate.
Fast forward to now and it's simply business as usual.
In Holiday's first game back in Philadelphia, he was terrific in every way, stuffing the stat sheet with 20 points, 13 assists, seven rebounds and three steals in a 121-105 victory for the Pelicans, their third in a row over the Sixers.
"It was fun for me and I treated it like any other game, even though I wanted to play well against my former team," Holiday said. "The crowd gave me a good bit of love and I thought that was cool. In the end, the most important thing for me was getting the win. That was my No. 1 concern."
Holiday was poised from the opening tip and controlled the tempo throughout the game.
On this night, Holiday had plenty of help.
The ever-improving Pelicans (7-8) received 26 points from guard Eric Gordon and 22 points and 10 rebounds from forward-center Anthony Davis, 18 points from forward Ryan Anderson and 16 from guard Tyreke Evans.
"We have a ton of weapons and we have a ton of guys who draw attention and we can kick it out for wide-open shots," Anderson said.
New Orleans built an early 14-point lead and held an 87-77 advantage after the third quarter. Soon after, it was 99-85 and the Pelicans never looked back.
Guard Tony Wroten paced the Sixers with a career-high 24 points while guard Evan Turner scored 22 points. Forward Thaddeus Young had 15 points and 12 rebounds and center Spencer Hawes chipped in with 12 points and nine rebounds. Point guard Michael Carter-Williams had 10 points and 10 assists.
But the Sixers struggled once again defensively and dropped their ninth game in the last 11. After starting the season 3-0, they have plummeted to 6-11 overall.
"They have a lot of guys who get to the basket," Young said of the Pelicans. "They're big, strong guys and they're very aggressive."
Before the season, the Sixers were predicted to be among the worst teams in the league. They just so happened to surprise a lot of people with wins in their first three games.
"All along, we said there were going to be hits," Sixers coach Brett Brown said. "We forecasted this."
The game was rather chippy with three technical fouls called -- point guard Michael Carter-Williams and Hawes of the Sixers and Pelicans center Jason Smith.
When the Pelicans needed a basket, they looked to Holiday. And he created.
"Playing on this team, there are many ways I can go and having shooters and AD down low, it's great," Holiday said. "I have so many options. I think we're coming together as a team and we're getting better every day. We got great looks tonight and guys knocked down shots. I'm excited to see how we progress as the season goes along."
NOTES: Pelicans coach Monty Williams appeared in 21 games for the Sixers during the 2002-03 season, his final stint in the NBA. ... Sixers F Thaddeus Young was born in New Orleans. ... Sixers C Spencer Hawes started despite soreness in his left knee. ... This is the first stop in a three-game road trip for the Pelicans, who will play Friday at New York and Saturday at Chicago.