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By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – In one game against the Boston Celtics, Evan Turner went from the #2 pick that couldn’t get on the court, to the #2 pick who coach Doug Collins couldn’t get off the court. And the Sixers went from a team that was spiraling out of the Atlantic Division lead, to one who inspired some fan confidence.
Turner had a career high 26 points in his second start this year, in a season high 37 minutes. Turner also had 9 rebounds and two assists, and played with a freedom and confidence that was a welcome sight for a team who could use some new energy. The result of the game (a 103-71 Sixers win), as well as Turner’s stat line, were in stark contrast to his first start of the season, Monday night’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, in which Turner shot 1-12.
Turner, who Collins said will start for the foreseeable future, will need to continue to produce by driving to the basket, and either finishing, getting to the free throw line, or getting open shots for teammates. Even after working in the off-season with shot doctor Herb Magee, Turner’s jump shot is still the weakest part of his game.
Though Wednesday’s win was impressive for the Sixers, it will continue to be interesting to see how Turner, Jrue Holiday, and Andre Iguodala perform together. All three are most effective when handling the ball, and with only one ball in play, how they work together in the half-court offense will something worth watching.
The Sixers have also been getting more production out of power forward Elton Brand. Brand has averaged 13 points and 12 rebounds per game since the All-Star break, as well as continuing to be the Sixers most reliable post defender.
They’ll need Brand’s defense tonight, as the Jazz have a deep frontcourt, led by center Al Jefferson, who is having the best season of his career, averaging over 19 points and 9 rebounds a game. Jefferson hit a game winning shot earlier this week against the Miami Heat. The Jazz front line also boasts Paul Millsap (15.6 PPG, 8.9 RPG), Derrick Favors (8.1 PPG, 5.3 RPG), and first round pick Enes Kanter (4.8 PPG, 4.9 RPG).
The Sixers will continue to be without center Spencer Hawes, who could return to game action next week.
The teams have met once this year, December 30th in Utah. The Sixers were leading at the start of the 4th quarter, but ended up losing the game 102-99. The Jazz were without Jefferson due to injury, but Favors and Millsap went for 20 points and 11 rebounds, and 14 points and 14 rebounds respectively.
The Jazz have won two in a row, and are a game out of the final spot in the playoff race in the Western Conference.
Tickets are available for tonight’s game at sixers.com. The game can be heard live at 7pm on 94WIP.