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?”
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.