With game on the line, Turner wanted the shot

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With game on the line, Turner wanted the shot

The shot went up and the buzzer went off, and the ball bounced around for a while. Everyone watched and waited. It bounced three times. It felt like forever.

“It felt like 150 times it bounced, man,” Evan Turner said.

He was the one who put the shot up. The Sixers were down one in overtime when he drove to the basket and let the ball go as timed expired.

“It was up there,” Turner said, “and I was just thinking about my reaction if it didn’t go in -- who I was going to punch, you know? That’s all I was really doing. Thank the Lord it went in and I’m glad we won.”

They did win. Turner didn’t have to punch anyone. Thank the Lord for that, too.

Sixers 121, Nets 120 (see Instant Replay).

The Sixers lost seven games in a row before beating the Nets at the Wells Fargo Center Friday evening. That unfortunate and often-ugly streak included an abject beating by the same Nets team in Brooklyn on Monday. The Nets won that game by 36 points. The Sixers won this one by one point. They’ll take it. They needed it.

“It’s easy to get deflated when you lose and lose the way we did the last two games,” head coach Brett Brown said. “It’s such an up-and-down world we live in with the Philadelphia 76ers.”

It has been less up and more down for them this season -- except in overtime games. They’ve played five of those and won four -- half their win total this season.

“It’s up and down, it’s up and down,” Brown continued. “I feel like my job, and I try to coach myself, is to try to stay even and always remember what we’re doing. We needed to get that win, I felt like for the sanity of the group, keeping our group together, holding hope. For those reasons, as the ball is hanging on the rim, and it decides to fall in for us, given where we are, that is an important win for us.”

It was. And it almost didn’t happen. Late in overtime, Paul Pierce hit a three-pointer to put the Nets up by one. It was one of four three-pointers that Pierce hit, and one of 15 threes that Brooklyn made as a team. The Sixers are not good at defending the three-pointer. You may have heard. Something called Mirza Teletovic hit six threes all by himself for the Nets.

“The young guys continue to not realize that this is the NBA and the players are pretty good shooters,” Brown said with a laugh after the game. “Teletovic, we lose him like he’s one of my assistants. You look. We just got done playing him. He’s a really good shooter. He’s like a mini-Dirk [Nowitzki]. There should be fear and anxiety of ‘Where is he?’ And then, even Michael [Carter-Williams] realizing, ‘Hey, it’s Paul Pierce.’ You know?”

We know.

Brown said it all with a smile because why wouldn’t he? The coaching and the criticism could be saved for another time. The Sixers were busy enjoying a feeling they haven’t experienced too often of late.

Carter-Williams returned. He had 15 points and 10 assists. Thaddeus Young had 25 points and six rebounds. And then there was Turner. He saved them. And here’s the other thing: He asked to do it. He wanted the ball and the last shot.

During the timeout before the final out-of-bounds play, Turner asked Brown to call a play for him. Brown obliged.

“I got a lucky couple of rolls,” Turner said about the game-winner. “I must have done the right thing in practice or something and the basketball gods looked out for me.”

Turner had a game-high 29 points to go with 10 rebounds and five assists. It was his night --but, more than that, it was their night.

“It’s a great team win,” Turner said. “We’re just glad to finally win.”

Glad to finally win. Yes. That’s a good place to end the story. That’s how Turner ended theirs.

Brett Brown wants Sixers to focus on turnovers, transition defense in next 10 games

Brett Brown wants Sixers to focus on turnovers, transition defense in next 10 games

NEW ORLEANS — The Sixers take a pause after each set of 10 games over the course of the 82-game season to identify areas they want to improve in the next increment.
 
They are now 22 games into the season and two into the current grouping. Brett Brown has targeted two aspects, one on each end of the floor, to hone in on: turnovers and transition defense.
 
“Our turnovers continue to haunt us and we can’t let it go,” Brown said earlier this week. 
 
Turnover problems are nothing new to the Sixers. As a young team, they struggled heavily last season and ranked 29th with 16.4 per game. This season the number is higher. The Sixers currently are at the bottom of the NBA with 17.3 turnovers per game.*
 
They are running into problems late in games. The Sixers average 3.6 turnovers in the first quarter (tied for 22nd with the Clippers) compared to 5.0 in the fourth (also 30th in the NBA for that quarter). 
 
Brown frequently highlights points allowed off turnovers when assessing a loss. The Sixers are tied with the Timberwolves for 25th with 18.2 points in that category.

Rather than just looking at turnovers as a whole, Brown is delving into the who’s and why’s of the problem. Joel Embiid leads the team with 3.7 turnovers per game. The Sixers look to him as the focal point of the offense. As a rookie, he is adjusting to NBA defenses, especially double teams, while being the go-to at the basket. 

Sergio Rodriguez is behind Embiid with 2.7, not counting Jerryd Bayless (3.0) who only has played three games. Rodriguez has said he “takes risks” at the point but is trying to be more secure with the ball in his hand (see story)

“We’ve got repetitive examples of people either too much in a crowd,” Brown said. “Examples of people not handling pick and rolls when they come out and hedge. Post players dribbling too much and not reacting to double teams and to pass outs.”
 
On the opposite end of the court, the Sixers are last in the league with 18.5 fast break points scored by opponents. Their defense fluctuates when Embiid is on the sideline, based on his 28-minute restriction. However Brown does not want the rest of the team to lapse without their big man. Brown has been emphasizing the need for pace and has been stressing all season the importance of career-best fitness to get up and down the floor.

“We still don’t get back the way I want to in transition defense,” Brown said. “We do see differences in our defense dramatically when Joel is in the game or not. But it still doesn’t camouflage the fact that we have to get back on defense.”

The Sixers will have to tackle these issues in a 10-game period in which they are shorthanded with a slew of injuries and illnesses. 

"The good thing is, we’ve selected two things that have hurt us and we need to claim them again," Brown said. 

*All stats according to NBA.com

Best of NBA: Magic overcome Wall's 52 points to beat Wizards

Best of NBA: Magic overcome Wall's 52 points to beat Wizards

WASHINGTON -- Elfrid Payton scored 22 of his season-high 25 points in the first half and the Orlando Magic overcame John Wall's 52-point performance to beat the Washington Wizards, 124-116 on Tuesday night.

Wall had the highest-scoring game of his career and kept Washington in it with 33 points in the second half as the Wizards cut the lead below 10 in the fourth quarter. The guard made 18 of 31 from the field and added eight assists.

Payton went 8 for 8 from the field and 3 for 3 from the line off the bench in that first half, nearly matching his previous season best of 23 points in the first two quarters alone. Payton finished 9 for 12 and handed out nine assists.

Orlando won its third straight game and its 124 points were a season high (see full recap).

Spurs trounce Timberwolves to reach 13-0 on the road
MINNEAPOLIS -- Kawhi Leonard scored 31 points and the San Antonio Spurs improved to 13-0 on the road this season with a 105-91 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night.

Leonard hit 11 of 15 shots after not scoring at all in the first quarter and Patty Mills scored 15 points off the bench for the Spurs (18-4), who played without Tony Parker after he bruised his left knee against Milwaukee on Wednesday night. San Antonio overcame a slow start to shoot 52.7 percent.

The Spurs moved past the 1969-70 New York Knicks to take sole possession of the second-best road start to begin a season in NBA history. The Golden State Warriors started 14-0 last year.

Zach LaVine scored 25 points for the Timberwolves. Karl-Anthony Towns had 11 points and 14 rebounds, but shot just 3 of 16 (see full recap).

Anthony, Knicks blow past depleted Heat
MIAMI -- Carmelo Anthony matched a season high with 35 points, and the New York Knicks beat the injury-ravaged Miami Heat 114-103 on Tuesday night.

Kristaps Porzingis had 14 points and 12 rebounds for New York, which is three games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2012-13 season. The Knicks lost Derrick Rose to back spasms in the third quarter.

Goran Dragic scored 29 points and Hassan Whiteside finished with 23 points and 14 rebounds for the Heat, who fell to 2-8 at home.

The teams were tied at 68 late in the third quarter, when the Knicks went on a 27-13 run over the next eight minutes to take control. Anthony finished 13 for 27 from the field, and Porzingis and Joakim Noah combined for 22 rebounds (see full recap).