Hol­i­day is ex­cited to be with Griz­zlies, play tough de­fense

Coach Har­d­away ex­pects strug­gling Tu­lane to go after the Tigers by fight­ing for re­bounds Guard says he hopes to help turn team around

The Commercial Appeal - - Sports - Drew Hill David Cobb Mem­phis Com­mer­cial Ap­peal USA TODAY NET­WORK - TEN­NESSEE

Since his first full sea­son in the NBA with the 2014-15 NBA Cham­pion Golden State War­riors, Justin Hol­i­day's roles have in­creased while the cal­iber of his teams have de­creased.

Now with the Griz­zlies, the 29-yearold shoot­ing guard ac­quired from the Bulls in a trade may have found a happy medium.

"To be right there in the mix, it's ex­cit­ing to be here," Hol­i­day told the Com­mer­cial Ap­peal. "I know we're strug­gling right now, but there's been a lot of changes, a lot of ad­just­ments and some­times it's just that time of the year.

"But hope­fully we can turn it around and do some big things and get back on track."

Hol­i­day views his role in the hope­ful Griz­zlies turn­around sim­ply.

"We've been playing de­fense pretty

GRIZ­ZLIES VS. HEAT

The Griz­zlies game Satur­day vs. Mi­ami was not com­plete at press time. Go to com­mer­cialap­peal.com for anal­y­sis, pho­tos, videos and more. well," he said. "I'm hop­ing to come in and keep it up or maybe even push it up a notch when we get in the game as a second unit. Then of­fen­sively, just try­ing to be a spark there and score the ball to help us get a lead or keep a lead."

Since shoot­ing 32 per­cent from 3point range while av­er­ag­ing 11.1 min­utes in 59 ap­pear­ances with the War­riors in 2014-15, Hol­i­day's num­bers have steadily im­proved while his teams have got­ten pro­gres­sively worse.

He signed a multi-year deal with the Hawks be­fore the 2015-16 sea­son. The Hawks made the second round of the play­offs, but that was after they dealt Hol­i­day to Chicago at the trade dead­line.

With Hol­i­day playing 18.9 min­utes per game, the Bulls fin­ished two games out­side the play­off picture.

The Bulls traded Hol­i­day to the Knicks be­fore the 2016-17 sea­son. In

New York, he played 20 min­utes per game for a team that fin­ished 20 games be­low .500.

Hol­i­day re-signed with Chicago in the sum­mer of 2017 and spent last sea­son and the first half of this sea­son as a full-time starter av­er­ag­ing more than 30 min­utes per night. But last year's Bulls team fin­ished 27-55, and this year's team was 10-28 when the fran­chise traded him to the Griz­zlies last week.

Now, Hol­i­day is com­ing off the bench for the first time in a cou­ple of sea­sons. But he is do­ing it for a team that ac­quired him in the name of sal­vaging its play­off hopes.

Gen­eral man­ager Chris Wal­lace said Mon­day that the trade for Hol­i­day was "ab­so­lutely" a sign of the fran­chise's de­sire to win now.

"We think Justin is go­ing to be a very pro­duc­tive player for us on both ends of the floor," Wal­lace said.

"I'm ex­cited to be a part of a team that wants to win and has a chance to win, that is try­ing to do ev­ery­thing they can to get there," Hol­i­day said. "They're very vo­cal about it and se­ri­ous about it."

Hol­i­day made just 1-of-10 shots dur­ing his first two games with the Griz­zlies, both losses. Tuesday's prac­tice at Fedex­fo­rum lead­ing into Wed­nes­day night's game against the Spurs was Hol­i­day's first prac­tice in Mem­phis with his new team.

There will be ad­just­ments for Hol­i­day, who was shoot­ing 36 per­cent from 3-point range with the Bulls this sea­son.

But Hol­i­day finds his iden­tity as a player in more than just a noted cor­ner 3-point shoot­ing abil­ity.

"I pride my­self on com­pet­ing and re­ally playing both ends of the floor but first with de­fense," he said. "I'm try­ing to bring en­ergy and ef­fort to the game. Those are the things I can con­trol ev­ery night, so that's what I try and do. Hope­fully I can help in that way, to come to the floor and bring en­ergy."

And for the first time in a while, he'll be do­ing it for a team that – at least for now – has play­off as­pi­ra­tions.

Mem­phis Com­mer­cial Ap­peal USA TODAY NET­WORK - TEN­NESSEE

Mem­phis coach Penny Har­d­away has a lot of re­spect for Tu­lane coach Mike Dun­leavy Sr. MARK WE­BER/THE COM­MER­CIAL AP­PEAL DE­SIGN BY DAVID D. ROB­BINS JR. / GETTY IMAGES

Mem­phis’ Tony Pol­lard cel­e­brates his touch­down against the Hous­ton Cougars. Pol­lard will en­ter the NFL Draft. JOE RONDONE/THE COM­MER­CIAL AP­PEAL

Hol­i­day

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS RE­BECCA BLACK­WELL,

For­mer Chicago Bulls player Justin Hol­i­day moves the ball past Or­lando Magic's de­fend­ers.

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