Save this column to your browser’s Favorites Bar, Evan—courtesy of the Lake. You da man. You deserve it after the breakout game as a starter.
Philadelphia dominated in the City of Brotherly Love by the score of 103-71, as the reliable Sixers ratcheted up their defense.
Turner’s plus-minus rating in the blowout victory was a team-high +30.
He had a smile on his face for most of the night—probably long after the game ended as well. He’s probably still smiling as he reads this piece.
Turner’s breaking of the Boston Celtics came after he went through great basketball tribulation, but his joy eventually prevailed after he helped the Sixers beat down their Atlantic Division rivals—the Boston Celtics, symbolized by his celebration with fans in the third quarter after a bucket.
Turner slapped the Celtics silly all night.
Turner blasted Boston with 16 points in the first half while shooting just over 50 percent from the floor. Doug Collins was obviously digging his own decision to put Turner in the starting lineup two games ago.
Interestingly, Turner had recently displayed his talents to the basketball world on Friday night during the NBA All-Star festivities. He was one of the young players drafted to play in the Rising Stars Challenge—a new twist on NBA All-Star events—broadcasted by TNT after the celebrity game.
Turner started for Charles Barkley’s selected team, who trounced Shaquille O’Neal’s hand-picked squad in the exhibition.
Evan’s minutes had been recently dwindling, but he kept a positive outlook on life. Turner played a team-high 36:30 last night, and his effort shows that handling adversity well pays off.
Point-forward was the role he starred in at the Ohio State University when he won Naismith Award honors in 2010. Now, listed as a shooting guard-small forward, he is one of the best ball-handlers and passers on Philadelphia’s roster.
He’s also one of the best rebounders, believe it or not.
After struggling through his rookie season, by his standards, and seeing suddenly decreased minutes this year, Turner got promoted; Collins finally placed the Chicago native in the starting lineup.
Early this season, a Philadelphia reporter had called Collins out about Jodie Meeks starting over Turner; Collins bristled.
Maybe the question, though, has been answered for good.
Turner’s best performance of his NBA career occurred in his second start this season. And it came at Wells Fargo Center against the Leprechauns.
In the process, Philly’s fans in attendance got a treat—witnessing what could become a wonderfully common occurrence.
Early in the third quarter, Andre Iguodala swiped an inbounds pass. On the ensuing three-on-one fast break, he dished the donut to Turner. Evan soared and seemingly hung in the air for three seconds before half wind-milling a dunk into the cup.
If Turner wasn’t a starter, then the exciting transition bucket wouldn’t have happened at that time in the game. So, that was the treat. Evan’s ferocious jam made the score 64-39 with 8:17 left to go in the period.
Turner’s sky act also got the jubilant fans out of their seats—some showing their home made “Go Sixers” signs and posters. Evan ended up with 26 points, nine rebounds and two assists. And, he added a three-point shot—shooting one-for-three in trifectas.
Even if it was only for one night, Turner validated his picked No. 2 in the draft status. Watching him get after it last night again reminded me of his similarities to another former NBA star.
In an article written last year, I compared Turner’s game to Penny Hardaway.
Never was the comparison more appropriate than after witnessing the Boston-Philadelphia game last night.
Meanwhile, Hardaway was working as a studio analyst during NBA TV’s Fan Night before the Miami-Atlanta game. I’ve been the only one—that I know of—to make this comparison. If Turner keeps it up, then I surely won’t be rolling solo-dolo, or be the last.
Now, where has this type of game been for Evan?
It’s probably been buried on the bench.
Contact Lake Cruise: Lakecruise@att.net