The Sixers had an off day Tuesday. Evan Turner didn’t take advantage of it.
After going 1-for-12 in his first start of the season on Monday night, Turner wasn’t about to rest. Instead, the newly minted starting shooting guard went to the gym to get shots up with assistant coach Michael Curry.
It worked. In a big way.
Making his second straight start last night, Turner went off for a career-high 26 points on 11-for-19 shooting. It cemented his place in the starting five and propelled the Sixers’ to a much-needed 103-71 destruction of the Celtics.
“Sometimes it’s just the basketball gods doing their thing,” Turner said.
After his breakout performance, coach Doug Collins said he planned to start Turner the rest of the season — barring injury, of course.
“I was really happy for Evan Turner. He had the bounce back in his step,” Collins said. “He was playing confident basketball.”
Turner’s first two NBA seasons have been anything but smooth. After winning National Player of the Year honors as a senior at Ohio State, he was the no-brainer No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 draft. But a woeful jumper left him with a bit role off the bench. Bust whispers and and even recent rumors of off-the-court issues have plagued him.
To Turner’s credit, he never whined about his role or sulked.
“I get to wake up and play basketball for a living, I don’t really have any problems like normal people have,” Turner said. “I’ve been blessed and complaining about anything else would be really childish of me.”
Now Turner gives the starting unit another highly-athletic defender and ball-handler. Last night, he guarded Rajon Rondo, brought the ball up the floor and snatched nine rebounds. It was finally a performance worthy of the No. 2 overall pick.
Three things we saw:
Elton Brand took a full week off to rest his thumb and legs at the end of February. Now he’s getting lift on his jumper again and rebounding at a plus-level. It’s not $80 million worth, but Brand isn’t a liability out there. He had 18 points and nine boards.
The Sixers entered the night having lost eight of their last 10 games, thus seeing their lead in the Atlantic Division shrink to one game. If this team is going to accomplish its goal of making the second round of the playoffs, holding off the Celtics and Knicks is a must.
Thaddeus Young didn’t play last night after coming down with an illness. He’s day-to-day ahead of tomorrow’s game against the Utah Jazz.