Jrue Holiday (PHI): 28 points (11-19 FG, 5-5 FT), 9 rebounds, 7 assists vs. Kings
About a week ago, we analyzed the young starting point guards in the NBA, and we concluded that Jrue Holiday (see right) fell in the middle of the pack. We thought that he had impressively solid numbers in all the relevant statistical categories--except in points-per-game average, which left much to be desired. Well, last night Holiday showed us that he is certainly capable of scoring in bunches, putting up his highest points total since early November. His efficiency was also valuable in helping the Sixers at least force overtime, especially with teammates Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young shooting a combined 3-23 from the field (and Andre Iguodala shooting an inexplicable 4-10 from the charity stripe). Holiday did it all last night, with 7 assists and 9 rebounds, including 4 on the offensive end. He was at his best in the 4th quarter, too, racking up 16 of his team's 29 points in the final frame. We're not ready to admit we underestimated Holiday yet--but we will definitely keep our eye on him to see if games like yesterday's become less of an aberration and more of a regular occurrence.
Josh Smith (ATL): 13 points, 18 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 blocks vs. Cavaliers
Hawks fans should be happy not just about their double-digit road win yesterday, but also about the all-around performance turned in by Josh Smith. Most encouraging for the Hawks faithful was Smith's dominance on the glass, pulling in a season-high 18 rebounds against the Cavs. In his previous six games, Smith had recorded double-digit rebounds only once, including a 2-rebound night against the Bulls and a 4-rebound performance versus the Nets. He broke out in a big way yesterday, though, with more than twice as many rebounds as any Cavaliers player. He also managed 6 assists and 2 blocks, for a solid all-around game from the Hawk's young power forward.
Marcus Morris (KU): 20 points, 16 rebounds (8 offensive) vs. VCU
Though it was in a losing effort, Marcus Morris turned in his best performance of the tournament in yesterday afternoon's shocking game against Virginia Commonwealth. He recorded 20 points for the first time in this year's Big Dance, and he racked up a season-high 16 rebounds. 8 of those boards came on the offensive end, matching VCU's entire team on offensive rebounds. Morris got offensive rebounds on 20% of the Jayhawks' misses, the highest percentage of any player in the Elite Eight. Though he couldn't will his team to victory--mostly because Kansas shot 2-21 from 3-point range compared to 12-25 from the Rams--Morris turned in a high-quality effort nonetheless.