The good news is that the Sixers got off to a much better start today, attacking the basket early and shooting over 44 percent for the game. Still, it wasn’t enough to secure a first W for the 7-6 down in Orlando. Jacob Pullen and Justin Holiday led the way for the Sixers with 23 and 16 points respectfully. Pullen got the start at point guard today following an impressive performance yesterday against the Pacers. He continued to aggressively attack the basket and use his quickness to his advantage. Despite his skinny frame, Holiday continued to find the ball, leading all Sixers with seven boards.
Rookie Maurice Harkless had a nice basket from the lower block early, but once again seemed to disappear. The rookie out of St. John’s certainly wasn’t playing bad, but struggled to create plays for himself off the ball.
Early in the game Harkless limped off the court, and despite coming back in with a few minutes left in the first half, the Sixers announced he would not return due to a left hip flexor strain. Harkless finished with just two points in nine minutes of action.
Harkless’ injury, along with the absence of Arnett Moultrie is really disappointing for those looking to get a read on the Sixers recent draft picks. Big man Nik Vucevic hasn’t seen any time either, sidelined with an aggravated achilles injury. He is listed as day-to-day.
Zack Rosen, former Penn standout, made his debut for the Sixers in today’s first half. The undersized guard couldn’t get a lot going for the offense, struggling to penetrate the Utah defense. Rosen finished the game logging just eight minutes.
Guard Xavier Silas, who struggled from the field yesterday once again had trouble connecting late, despite a nice start. Silas finished the game with 11 points with four of 12 shooting while leading all Sixers with 32 minutes.
The story continued to be Pullen’s play. Pullen’s ability to get in the lane allowed for Silas and Holiday to find open shots. Pullen’s outside shooting also thrived once again, hitting four of seven from beyond the arc.
“I always felt like I shoot the ball pretty well and I never stop believing in my shot,” Pullen said. “With the size disadvantages I have to be able to make those shots and believe in myself.”
A late bucket, followed by a turnover from Pullen ended the first half 44-41 in favor of the Sixers. The Jazz, however, came out hot, jumping to a quick 52-48 lead to start the half, changing the tide of the game.
Jon Scheyer made his way into the game midway through the third quarter and continued to lack any impact. Scheyer played just seven minutes, scoring only on a breakaway layup.
Terrance Jennings played well in the post in limited minutes against Jazz big man Enes Kanter. Jennings put a pair of nice buckets together and finished with four points in his 12 minutes of action.
As the game progressed it became even more obvious that Pullen and Holiday were the heart of the Sixers offense. Neither guard is scared to pull the trigger, Holiday leading the team with 17 shot attempts, connecting on seven.
Unfortunately, Holiday failed to connect from three, missing all six attempts. Also, a pair of missed free throws and a turnover late really cost the Sixers, who failed to ever retake control of the game in the second half.
Holiday, who is Jrue Holiday’s older brother, is hopeful that he can find his way onto the roster alongside his brother.
“I think they understand we are two different people, but at the same time they understand my work ethic,” Holiday said. “Our games compliment each other, but for the most part I think I’m getting a little more of his game as far as attacking. I haven’t attacked this much in a while and I can play the four through whatever I have to play on the floor while he is a point guard.”
I think it’s safe to say though, through two days, that Pullen and Holiday have been the most impressive in the two tough losses thus far.
“I’m a competitor, so losing is bothering me,” Pullen said. “But as far as a lot of guys who haven’t played together much we can stay in games and find ways to compete. It’s small minor mistakes that are costing us the game”
The Sixers sent the Jazz to the free throw line 28 times in the contest, including 10-11 from the line for Alec Burks, who led all scorers with 31 points.
McKie echoed some of Pullen’s concerns, “We let them get to the free throw line a little too much,” McKie said. “They got out in transition which helped them get to the line and get some easy baskets, but it’s the little things that can be worked on.”
The Sixers hope to get their first win of the summer league against the new look Brooklyn Nets tomorrow at 3:00 pm. All games can be seen on NBA TV.
You can find the full box score and some highlights at NBA.com and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @Philadunkia for updates as I will be in Orlando all week.