Holiday accepts challenge, Sixers push Bulls to brink

Deep in the guts of the Sixers’ 89-82 Game 4 win, Andre Iguodala had a suggestion for coach Doug Collins.

Let’s get the ball to Jrue Holiday, the team captain implored. No matter that Holiday had started off disastrously, missing 13 of his first 14 shots. Forget that Iguodala gets paid the biggest bucks, or that he was the Sixers’ lone All-Star.

Iguodala knew that Holiday’s scoring ability gives the Sixers their best chance to advance to the second round of the NBA playoffs for the first time since 2003. And the young point guard responded with his second, game-changing 3-pointer of the fourth quarter, this one coming with under four minutes to go. It handed the Sixers a seven-point lead and they never looked back.

“He saw I was in a groove,” said Holiday, who scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half. “I hit a big shot and was excited and confident. Dre’s been a leader this whole time, this whole year.”

The scorer’s mentality that Holiday has is shared by his coach. Collins was the No. 1 overall pick of the Sixers in 1973. He averaged 17.9 points per game over an eight-year career.

“He’s got a coach that has no conscious when it comes to shooting,” Collins said. “Jrue was 0-for-the-world, and he gave us two huge threes.”

Now the eighth-seeded Sixers have won three straight playoff games for the first time since 2001.

They can wrap up the series tomorrow in Chicago. Of course, the Bulls are playing without their two best players in Derrick Rose (knee) and Joakim Noah (ankle). But don’t tell that to coach Tom Thibodeau.

“We do have more than enough to win with,” he said.