When the Sixers made Evan Turner the second overall pick in June of 2010, Friday night's performance by he and backcourt mate Jrue Holiday were what fans envisioned. Perhaps Turner's 25 points, 11 rebounds and stellar defense, along with Holiday's 21 points and 14 assists will somewhat become the norm for coach Doug Collins.
The two also accounted for 82 total minutes on the floor. And when a basket, or defensive stop was needed during the team's 106-100 victory at TD Garden, their names were called by Collins.
Consider these two sequences: Early in the fourth quarter, with Holiday on the bench, the Celtics cut a Sixers nine-point lead down to four at 83-79 with 10:41 remaining in the game. Holiday had already played 31 minutes and Collins, knowing another game awaited his team in Toronto in less than 24 hours, certainly wanted to give Holiday some rest. But there was a game to be won and looking ahead wasn't an option. So Collins grabbed Holiday and threw him back into the mix. Two minutes and 20 seconds later, the Sixers were back up by 14.
Later in the game, with the Sixers holding a tenuous six point lead, Turner did a great job of staying in front of Paul Pierce (24 points) as he drove to the basket, forcing him to pass out in a failed Boston possession. The next time down, Turner was on Rajon Rondo (14 points, 20 assists) and got a steal as Rondon tried to pass the ball down the lane. After missing two free throws and the Celtics cut the lead to 102-98, Turner scored the team's final four points as the Sixers upped their record to 3-2 in their best overall performance of the young season.
"We were very aggressive pushing the ball, our drag-screens were good tonight, Dorell (Wright) had his best game, he was terrific and Evan was great and Jrue made some big plays for us," said Collins. "We had 40 points from the free throw line and the three point line combined, which is what we want. I felt every time they made a surge, we handled it, which was big. Great, great win for us on the road, a character builder.
"Evan stepped up and made those fouls shots and then he got a deflection and a steal. Jrue hit a big three-pointer from the corner (to make the lead 98-88). I had to go back to Jrue (when the lead got down to four). I talked to Jrue, seven turnovers but he did great but he's got to bring that down. Some of his passes he's got a little too much zip on them. But I want the ball in his hands. This is what he's going to do, he's going to grow up and be our quarterback and lead our team."
While Turner and Holiday were at the forefront of the win, there were many other contributors. Wright and Thaddeus Young scored 15 points each and Nick Young added 10 off the bench. Spencer Hawes contributed 8 points and 6 rebounds in just under 22 minutes while battling foul trouble and Royal Ivey supplied 12 and a half solid minutes.
"Evan is a scorer," said Holiday. "He's capable of putting up big numbers." The impressive thing was not just the numbers but the way Turner got them. He shot 9-for-19 but almost all of his shots were very good ones. He didn't force the game, instead he let it come to him.
"I think (Evan) did a great job and Jrue did a great job," said Wright. "Everyone played well. We put a good win together against a good team, a well coached team. It feels good to get a win and get back on track."
"Seeing the ball go in definitely helps," said Turner, who is now averaging nine rebounds a game. "Other than that it's just competing. It's a big stage, a big moment. Just want to help the team out the most. The key thing is sticking together."