EVAN TURNER, ON O.T. WINNER: "I THINK I EARNED THE RIGHT TO PLAY WELL"
No one should be more thrilled than Evan Turner.
The Sixers' third-year small forward came up big, his 13-footer in the lane with four seconds to go proving the difference. But it's not just one game with Turner. It's been nearly a month of consistent play from him.
In the Sixers' first eight games, Turner shot 36 percent (29-for-80), with averages of 10.6 points, eight rebounds and three assists. In their last 11, Turner's shooting 50 percent overall (79-for-159), averaging 18.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists. Moreover, his confidence has spilled over into his outside shooting. Not always known as a 3-point shooter, he took only six treys in the first eight games. Since, he's taken 27 and made 12, hitting at a 44-percent clip.
“I feel like this is how I was always supposed to be playing,” Turner said. “As I've said, I started off the year a little anxious – all these butterflies. I was able to settle down, take shots, make shots I've been taking all summer and my whole life.
“I think I earned the right to play well.”
Turner has. He's waited his turn, playing in a spot-starter's capacity the first two seasons of his career. He's answered all the questions regarding whether he was overrated, getting picked second overall in the 2010 draft. And he wasn't even listed on the All-Star ballot this season, a further nod to how the rest of the league viewed Turner.
Sixers coach Doug Collins appreciates Turner's play, even if the rest of the league might not.
“He's a guy who has a chance to be a tremendous leader. He really does,” Collins said of Turner. “Of all the guys on our team, he has the best leadership potential.”
A few more things to consider about Turner: He's scored in double figures in 11 consecutive games, a career-best streak. He's scored 20 or more points in four of his last seven. He's played more than 32 minutes in each of his last 11 appearances, against four games in his first eight with 30 or fewer.
This might possibly be the best run of Turner's pro career ... and he'll be looking to continue it tonight against the Celtics.