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Holiday up for another test

On Sunday, he'll be tasked with guarding a different all-star, the Hornets' Chris Paul.

Jrue Holiday and the Sixers take on Chris Paul and the Hornets today. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer)
Jrue Holiday and the Sixers take on Chris Paul and the Hornets today. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer)Read more

The accelerated education of second-year 76ers point guard Jrue Holiday continues on Sunday with his second straight assignment against one of the NBA's elite point guards.

After facing Boston's Rajon Rondo in Thursday's 102-101 loss to the visiting Celtics, Holiday goes against three-time all-star Chris Paul in Sunday's noon game against the New Orleans Hornets at the Wells Fargo Center.

Rondo had 19 points, 14 assists and three turnovers on Thursday while Holiday contributed 12 points, eight assists and three turnovers.

"I think it does speed my development," Holiday said after Saturday's practice at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. "I feel like I have to play up to their standards because they are so great."

The 20-year-old Holiday, who played one year of college basketball at UCLA, says that he's been a longtime admirer of Paul's game.

"Chris Paul is one of those guys growing up, I guess I looked up to," Holiday said. "Deron Williams was one of those guys, Dwyane Wade, Baron Davis."

That must make the 25-year-old Paul feel old when somebody five years younger looked up to him while growing up.

Now in his sixth season, Paul is averaging 15.8 points, 10.4 assists, 3.18 steals, and 2.5 turnovers while shooting 48.8 percent from the field and 47.1 percent from beyond the arc. He is averaging just 10.9 field-goal attempts per game.

Paul has played in all 22 games after coming off a season in which he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery and was limited to 45 games.

"He looks as explosive as ever," Sixers coach Doug Collins said of Paul. "When you play him you have to hope and pray you can keep him out of the lane."

Paul is also a disruptive force on defense, possessing among the quickest hands in the NBA.

Collins said Paul plays defense like a free safety, always roaming toward the ball.

"He reminds me when I was coaching in Detroit of Mookie Blaylock in Atlanta, and a lot like Allen Iverson when he was here," Collins said. "They were more dangerous [defensively] off the ball because they were always shooting the passing lanes and getting those steals."

Holiday said Paul is especially impressive running the screen and roll.

"If you want study somebody on screen-and-rolls, look at him as well as Steve Nash, they are two of the best," Holiday said.

That said, Holiday isn't awed by his next opponent, but he knows and respects an all-star when he sees one.

"Guys like Rondo and Paul keep you on your toes because they are so quick and crafty," Holiday said. "I am excited at the challenge."

Holiday is averaging 13.4 points, 6.9 assists, and 2.77 turnovers in 34.9 minutes per game.

"This is a point-guard driven league," Collins said. "Jrue is growing by leaps and bounds."

Notes. The Sixers (7-15) have won four of their last six games, while New Orleans, which won its first eight games and 11 of its first 12, is 14-8 following Friday's 97-92 loss to visiting Oklahoma City. . . . Former Sixers guard Willie Green is averaging 8.5 points in 20.7 minutes for the Hornets.