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Mostly positive reviews for Sixers' rookie Holiday in Orlando Summer League

ORLANDO - Their stat lines were as divergent as the reviews. Sixers rookie point guard Jrue Holiday scored nine points on 3-for-11 shooting, turned the ball over five times, twice in the last minute on game-altering possessions, and dealt only two assists.

Jrue Holiday with Andre Iguodala. (JAMES HEANEY / Daily News)
Jrue Holiday with Andre Iguodala. (JAMES HEANEY / Daily News)Read moreJAMES HEANEY / Daily News

ORLANDO - Their stat lines were as divergent as the reviews.

Sixers rookie point guard Jrue Holiday scored nine points on 3-for-11 shooting, turned the ball over five times, twice in the last minute on game-altering possessions, and dealt only two assists.

Second-year forward/center Marreese Speights led all scorers with 28 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in a 75-67 overtime loss to the Pacers' squad in the first game of the Orlando Summer League.

Holiday, the 17th pick of last month's NBA draft, exited the game with his bosses beaming. Speights' performance was not viewed as kindly.

"We like Jrue Holiday," said new coach Eddie Jordan, who watched the combined Sixers/Nets team from behind the bench as Nets and Sixers assistants coached the players. "There's no fear . . . He's got a lot of point-guard mentality. A lot of point-guard personality."

Really, there was plenty of promise with which to be pleased.

Holiday generally handled the ball well under pressure. He consistently got the team into the offense in a timely fashion. He clearly has an understanding of the hybrid offense the Nets/Sixers squad ran, which incorporates some of the Princeton style Jordan will implement.

But the mistakes? The rust?

"That's going to happen," Jordan said. "You come up here in the summer league, you're playing guys from the [developmental] league, playing against some veterans, you're going to turn the ball over. You're going to have some breakdowns. That wasn't a concern."

Holiday, who turned 19 only last month, played the NBA-mandated 1 year at UCLA at shooting guard. Not playing the point in college would explain why he might be rusty.

Sixers president/general manager Ed Stefanski attributed Holiday's spotty play as much to fatigue as anything. Holiday dribbled the ball away near the end of regulation and near the end of the 3-minute overtime period.

"I thought he played well in spurts," Stefanski said. "I thought he got tired. Down toward the end, I thought he made some poor decisions because he got tired. You've got to learn how to play through this situation."

"It's a learning experience. I blame it on myself," Holiday said. "My first pro game. I'm happy."

Yesterday might have mattered less if the Sixers had a frontline point guard. They remain hopeful of re-signing free agent Andre Miller. They had fruitless talks with Mike Bibby.

If Holiday had that sort of lead to follow, it would make his performance here less magnified.

"Ifs" don't matter.

For instance, if Speights had played better defense, rebounded harder and executed sharper as a rookie last season, not only would he be less harshly judged now, he probably wouldn't be here at all.

The 16th pick from last year's draft after one season at Florida, Speights was not graded on Holiday's curve.

"He made shots. We'd still like to see him execute a little better," Jordan said. "There were some breakdowns where he should have done some things, executionwise, on both ends. Stats don't mean a whole lot. He might have had 28, but he probably could have had 20 and given his teammates 10 points along the line."

Speights made 11 of 26 shots, but those 26 shots were more than twice as many as any teammate, and his matchups - gangly center Roy Hibbert or smaller rookie Tyler Hansbrough - were to Speights' advantage. He even launched a couple of failed three-pointers, to Jordan's dismay.

"He should have been closer to the basket a lot more," Jordan said.

Close or far, apparently it won't matter to Speights. "It's something I've been working on the whole summer," Speights said of expanding his range. "Whenever I get it, I feel like I can shoot it, I'm going to shoot it."

That philosophy helped him in the Las Vegas Summer League last year, when he averaged 18.2 points and 10.2 rebounds. He then scored 7.7 points and pulled 3.7 rebounds in 79 games with the Sixers last season, but his learning curve was slow enough that he was virtually absent in their playoff series against the Magic.

Stefanski also delighted in Holiday's four steals and two clean blocked shots.

"He really likes to defend," Stefanski said.

He really likes to run the point, too. Can he?

"From this?" Stefanski asked. "I don't think you can make any decision on what he can do and what he can't do."

"I did have some bad turnovers," Holiday said. "It's my first game. I'm probably the youngest one out here [he was]. But again, everybody makes mistakes."

Not everybody has them as easily forgiven.

You talkin' to me?

All-American rookie Tyler Hansbrough, the 13th overall pick by Indiana, certainly brought his high-energy game from North Carolina to the NBA - or at least to its summer league.

Hansbrough did not start. However, his forearms, hips and elbows wreaked a measure of havoc in the second quarter, until consecutive fouls by Hansbrough on Speights earned him a seat next to coach Jim O'Brien, not to mention Speights' displeasure.

As Speights toed the free throw line, he yapped toward Hansbrough. Hansbrough was poised to defend his honor as he left the court, but starting center Roy Hibbert, coming off the bench to replace him, cut between Hansbrough and Speights. At the same time, an official spoke to Speights.

Nothing more came of it, though Hansbrough was demonstrably less wild as the game continued. He finished with a team-high 17 points on 6-for-13 shooting, with five rebounds . . . and five hard fouls.

"We were just being physical," Speights said afterward, smiling. "He's tough. I like how he plays out there. I was just talking trash to him, because he's just getting into the league."

"I don't really care," Hansbrough said. "There's nothing wrong. People are going to talk smack because I'm a rookie or whatever. There were no heated tempers or anything like that."


Six shots

Undrafted Temple guard Dionte Christmas, invited by the Sixers to fill out their portion of the roster, played a little more than 16 minutes off the bench, scored two points on 1-for-3 shooting, and had two rebounds. Ed Stefanski said that Christmas was not a lock to be invited to Sixers camp, and that Christmas would almost surely play for another team in the Las Vegas league, which begins at the end of this week . . . Penn Charter product Rob Kurz, a 6-9 forward who went undrafted last year out of Notre Dame but was signed by Golden State, yesterday played more than 18 minutes for the Sixers. He grabbed eight boards and scored two points (1-for-3). *