The Philadelphia 76ers don’t have much to brag about at the moment. However, the Sixers can use Jrue Holiday’s All-Star game debut on Feb. 17 as a temporary distraction. Yet this isn’t the only part of Holiday’s NBA All-Star game weekend, as he also took part in the Skills competition on Feb. 16 and fell just short of victory.
Several players from each conference were chosen to make shots through a special obstacle course, involving layups, passes and moves past cardboard cutouts of defenders. Whoever finished the fastest out of the Eastern and Western Conference would face off in the final, and Holiday won out in the East by completing the course in 29.3 seconds.
However, Holiday then had to face Portland Trail Blazers rookie Damian Lillard in the final. Lillard is the favorite for NBA rookie of the year, which became evident when he finished the course in 29.8 seconds in the final. Thanks to a few missed shots, Holiday easily lost with a time of 35.6 seconds.
Holiday was the veteran in this competition compared to Lillard, yet was schooled by the rookie in the end. Still, Holiday’s All-Star weekend isn’t over, as he has his first All-Star game to look forward to on Feb. 17 while Lillard heads home.
Lillard will likely make a few All-Star games himself down the line, and will at least return to Portland with some hardware before trying to lift the Trail Blazers into the playoffs. Both Portland and Philadelphia are ninth in their respective conferences, with the Trail Blazers having lost five straight games going into the break.
For Holiday's part, he will have to put the Sixers on his back when All-Star weekend ends. They are not only four games back in the playoff race, but are nowhere near getting Andrew Bynum back and need more than one consistant star.
Holiday may have been able to breeze through an obstacle course, for the most part. But he will have to step his game up to another level against actual defenders in the second’s second half.
Of course, he’s been doing that for much of this year and his teammates haven’t followed his lead, which is why no other Sixers are in Houston this weekend.