HOUSTON — The Sixers definitely could have used Jrue Holiday in their lineup Wednesday. Especially when Evan Turner limped off the floor in the third quarter of a 125-103 loss, their worst of the season.
But even with their quick start to the season currently in free-fall with five defeats in a row, it was an easy decision to keep the budding young star Holiday under wraps, at least for one more night. Holiday, who averages a team-best 18.4 ppg and 8.9 apg, sat out his fourth game in a row with a sprained left foot.
“He’s 22 years old,” coach Doug Collins said. “We have a huge investment in him. We’ve just signed him to a long-term deal and there’s no way in the world right now we’re going to be short-term foolish. It just makes no sense.”
Not when the first third of the Sixers’ season has been played in limbo waiting on Andrew Bynum‘s ailing knees. The 7-foot center is scheduled to have an MRI and get another update today.
Though there is no indication at this point that Holiday’s problem is serious or has long-term implications, if any team should be wary, it is the Sixers. Through their history, Philadelphia has seen the careers of All-Stars Andrew Toney and Collins, himself, shortened by foot injuries.
“I don’t think this is an injury that you would say is chronic unless you tried to do it too soon,” the coach said. “The one thing I’ve always gone on … people questioned whether I was hurt. My father had just died. They couldn’t find anything on an x-ray, it was all in my head. And I had stress fractures in both of my feet.
“So when a player tells me he’s hurt, he’s hurt. I will never ever question that. To me, when a guy’s ready to go, he’ll go. I know Jrue wants to go more than anybody.”
The situation is made worse by Turner’s injury and that rookie Maalik Wayns, getting his first start of the season, hurt his right foot and played just 14 minutes. Backup guard Royal Ivey got a DNP-CD in Houston and has seen his minutes seriously curtailed since early in the season. The Sixers are also in grueling stretch of the schedule where they’re playing 10 of 11 games away from home.
Collins said after Wednesday night’s thumping by the Rockets that Holiday could return on Friday night against Atlanta.
“It is tricky,” Holiday told Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News. “I feel like we could win a lot of games and I could help my team and, obviously, that’s a lot of pressure to put on me to come back. At the same time, I think I just want to be able to play basketball and walk and run and jump and all that stuff you have to do to be able to compete. I’m going to try and get back as quick as possible.”