Richaun Holmes continues to set career-highs in scoring and doing so against some of the most defensive-minded bigs in the NBA.
Holmes reached his new mark with 25 points against Dwight Howard in the Sixers' 99-92 loss to the Hawks on Wednesday. He also pulled down eight rebounds.
He scored a then-career-high 24 points twice in March, first facing DeAndre Jordan and the Clippers on March 11 and then against Nikola Vucevic and the Magic on March 20.
Holmes' most recent performance earned praise from Howard who also had a standout night with 22 points and 20 rebounds. .
"I thought he played great," Howard said. "I'm real happy for him."
The three-time Defensive Player of the Year and five-time All-Defensive Team selection recalled his early matchups with Holmes and how far Holmes has come in his two years in the league.
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"He's a kid that I remember the first time he stepped on the court with me, he was just like excited," Howard said. "He kept saying, 'Wow, I'm on the floor with Dwight Howard.' He just kept saying he was excited. Just to see his growth from that moment, he plays with such passion, it's great to see especially from a young guy like him. I'm proud of him."
Holmes' matchup with Howard was a test of physicality. Howard is listed at 6-foot-11, 265 pounds compared to Holmes at 6-foot-10, 245 pounds.
Holmes rose to the occasion.
"It's another challenge playing against one of the best in the world," he said. "It's another way to learn and another way to get better. Obviously, I enjoyed it."
Holmes is averaging 14.0 points and 7.3 rebounds in 26.2 minutes over the last 10 games. With an ease playing at the basket, Holmes is working on improving his long-range game. He made a three against the Hawks, which caught Howard by surprise.
There are only seven games remaining in the season. Without a timetable for Jahlil Okafor's return (right knee soreness), Holmes could start in all of them. The once bench-ridden backup has proved he can handle that role.
"He became the forgotten center (earlier this season). Throughout it all, he was not a forgotten teammate," Brett Brown said. "Daylight became available and he has capitalized on that."