Evan Turner played his first organized 5-on-5 basketball game on Monday night for the first time since his Ohio State team lost in the Sweet 16 to Tennessee. On March 26th.
The rust was certainly there. Turner often dribbled too much, at times showed frustration with the referees and didn't seem to have the smoothness to his game that helped him become the consesus college player of the year last season. But, he also didn't force things, taking just five shots, went to the glass (getting eight rebounds), and improved as the game went on to help the Sixers defeat the team representing the New Jersey Nets.
"Rusty is a good word," Turner said after the game. "I was trying to get acclimated to playing off the ball. I'm still getting used to cutting quicker off ball screens and stuff like that. It's going to take time to pick up the offense. But I competed and I think my teammates competed and we got the job done."
No one competed better than Turner's backcourt mate, Jrue Holiday, who collected 23 points and seemed head and shoulders better than everyone else on the floor. On Friday, coach Doug Collins told me how good he though Holiday was, better than he imagined. After the game tonight, assistant coach Quin Snyder said the same thing.
Holiday said that his confidence has always been high, and now he is even more comfortable after a year of playing in the league. He just turned 20. I think he is going to be a very special player in the league.
Earlier today I stated that it looked like Marreese Speights lost about 25 pounds. Before tonight's game, Speights asked me why i posted that number. I asked him how much he's lost, and he said he didn't know. I think he just worked hard and didn't do a before-after weight thing. He looks to be in very good shape and moved well on the floor tonight, though he did shoot just 1-for-11, which is very uncharacteristic for him.
On a side note, Amar'e Stoudemire agreed with the Knicks tonight. Last week, I wrote my predictions on the free agents. I got Stoudemire right. My other picks were LeBron in Chicago, Wade staying in Miami, and Bosh moving there also. I also said Joe Johnson would stay in Atlanta and Nowitzki wouldn't leave Dallas. Those two were pretty easy, but wondering where you might think LeBron, Wade and Bosh will land.