Jrue Holiday is living up to the four-year, $41 million contract extension Philadelphia rewarded him with at the start of the season. He has assumed a leadership role, and in the 76ers' last game, he carried the team to victory with perhaps the best performance of his career.
His worst offensive showing, however, came in his most recent game against the Dallas Mavericks.
Holiday looks to lead the 76ers to a rare win over the Mavericks on Tuesday night, while Dallas tries to bounce back from its most lopsided defeat of the season.
After an overtime loss to Oklahoma City the previous night, Holiday made sure the disappointment wouldn't carry over to Sunday's game against Phoenix. He had a career-high 33 points along with 13 assists in leading the 76ers (8-6) to a 104-101 victory.
"We take a lot of pride in how we play and we didn't want to lose three straight," forward Thaddeus Young said. "I think Jrue set the tone from the beginning with his aggressive play. He put us on his shoulders."
Holiday, who is averaging team highs of 18.6 points and 9.2 assists, picked up his game down the stretch, scoring nine points in the final 6:40 to help Philadelphia hang on.
"I like having the feel of the game with the pressure on to take the ball in my hands," he said. "At crunch-time, I think I made the right plays."
Holiday already has five double-doubles after getting just one last season, and he's doing a much better job taking care of the ball after some carelessness early. He is averaging 2.6 turnovers in the last seven games after averaging 6.0 in the first seven.
"He's been playing at an extremely high level," Young said.
That was not the case in an 82-75 home loss to the Mavericks on Feb. 17. Holiday missed all nine of his field-goal attempts and finished with three points, and the Sixers were outscored by 20 when he was on the court.
The defeat was the 10th in 12 games for Philadelphia against Dallas, but it could have better luck this time.
The Mavericks (7-7) are opening a stretch with eight of 10 on the road, and they've lost four of five away from Dallas. They're allowing an average of 105.3 points in the defeats, and their lone road win in that span came at lowly Cleveland.
The Sixers, meanwhile, have won four of five in Philadelphia, averaging 106.3 points in the last three.
Dallas is coming off Saturday's 115-89 home loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, in which it trailed by as many as 37 and was outrebounded 61-39.
"It's a bad one," guard O.J. Mayo told the Mavericks' official website. "We wish we could get it back, but we've gotta throw it away and get ready for our road trip."
Mayo was held to 13 points - 8.5 below his team-leading average - and missed all five of his 3-point attempts despite coming in shooting 56.8 percent from beyond the arc and having a league-best 42 made 3s.
Regaining his shooting touch could be difficult against a Sixers team that is limiting opponents to 28.9 percent shooting from 3-point range in its last five at home.
Elton Brand will be making his first return to Philadelphia after the Sixers used the amnesty clause to waive him in July. The Mavericks won the bidding to obtain Brand off waivers, and the two-time All-Star is averaging a career-low 5.5 points - half of what he averaged last season.