How 76ers forward Hollis Thompson fought his way back

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Hollis Thompson missed 11 games in December with an upper respiratory infection. As a result, the slender forward lost about 20 pounds.

In the process, he kind of lost his way in the 76ers rotation.

Thompson kept working and practicing and began to see small glimpses of improvement in his health and in his performance.

It’s safe to say he’s fully back now.

Thompson was absolutely sensational for the Sixers in their 105-98 victory over the Denver Nuggets Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center. He knocked down his first eight shots and wound up with a career-best 23 points, 19 coming in the first half.

Thompson has now scored in double figures in each of the last three games. During that stretch, he has connected on 10-of-16 shots from 3-point territory.

“Since we’ve been with him, he understands the terminology and he understands the rules,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “He’s a year in, and that enables him, even though he was sick, to jump back in quicker. He was out for so long and really out of my mind for a while, even when he came back. It took him a while with these young athletes flying around. Now he’s got his feet settled, and he’s playing with confidence.”

Thompson went undrafted and joined the Sixers last season. He displayed an ability to shoot from distance, a skill that may keep him around for a long while in this league.

When he was ill in December, he basically fell out of the rotation.

Welcome back.

“We came in and did a good job of executing, and we were moving the ball, and my teammates were finding me,” Thompson said. “The hard work paid off. It’s taken me some time, and I still think I’m finding myself in this new position. While I was out, we started playing very well and we started to come together. … I wasn’t shooting as well as I normally do (before missing games). It took some time to adjust to people knowing that I was a shooter.”

While Thompson isn’t a vocal leader, he’s an extremely hard worker who shows up early and routinely stays late.

“He’s mentally tough,” Brown said. “There’s a quiet toughness in him that would surprise people because he’s soft spoken, he’s a gentleman, but there is a competitor in there and a toughness you wouldn’t think.”

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