CLEVELAND – On Friday night, the Sixers saw a reoccurring theme right from the opening tip.
Doug Collins’ crew got off to a sluggish start, but this time, the Sixers had a strong close to the second quarter followed by an impressive start to the third that combined for a 22-4 run. The big spurt was pivotal in the Sixers beating the Cavaliers on the road, 97-87, at Quicken Loans Arena (see Instant Replay).
“That was huge,” Evan Turner said of those two stretches. “I think we did a great job with that and it was fun and we were glad to get the win.
“Hopefully we can build on top of this win and come with energy the next couple games.”
Turner came into Friday night averaging 8.6 points over his last six games. Against the Cavaliers, he was 9 of 17 from the floor for a game-high 23 points to go with his game-high 13 rebounds. It was the most points Turner has scored since Jan. 28, when he scored a season-high 27 in a loss against Memphis.
“[Turner] had the ball in his hands a lot,” Doug Collins said. “We liked his matchup a lot. He could use his strength and play foul line and below with the ball, which he did and he made some shots.
“I always feel like Evan coming back here is added pressure given Ohio State, but tonight might have been his best game in Cleveland that he has played.”
Turner shined his junior year at Ohio State, just two hours south of Cleveland, averaging 20.4 points, 9.2 rebounds and six assists on his way to earning five national Player of the Year awards.
Those were good times for the third-year pro, who appreciates the adoration he was given as a student-athlete.
“Fans have always treated me great -- it’s positive,” Turner said of playing in Ohio. “When I was walking off the court, they were still cheering and it is always good to see Buckeye nation. That was a positive point in my life and those are positive people because whether we won or lost, they are still the same way. Sometimes, when you deal with the pro life, you are judged so harshly -- it is just great to be in that [Ohio State] atmosphere.”
At the Sixers’ morning shootaround, Turner was gloating about Ohio State’s Sweet 16 win over 6-seeded Arizona in the NCAA tournament. Turner is the lone player in the Sixers’ locker room whose alma mater is still playing in this year’s Big Dance.
“Great win for the program, first and foremost,” Turner said. “As a former [Ohio State] basketball player, you always want the tradition to keep going.
“I miss the little stuff like the people I connected with, my teammates. Obviously Buckeye Nation has a great fan base and they still support. I think once a week somebody is hitting me up about the shot I made three years ago, so it is cool. I am glad for the players now and I am glad to be a part of that.”
The shot Turner speaks of was in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament his junior year. Turner hit a 37-footer at the buzzer to lift the Buckeyes to a one-point win over Michigan.
Thanks to the help of Turner, the Sixers are now 29-43 with Charlotte on the horizon Saturday night.
The Sixers had four players score in double figures with Jrue Holiday recording 20 points, Thaddeus Young 18 and Spencer Hawes putting up another double-double (16 points, 11 rebounds).
“I am proud of our guys. The spirit of the team is good,” Collins said. “We have a good spirit about us now, which I really like. It was a good win. Our guys are doing a good job and they are playing to win, which I love.”