Turner's buzzer-beater gives Sixers win over C's

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Turner's buzzer-beater gives Sixers win over C's

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BOSTON -- Evan Turner had just missed a critical free throw that would have tied the Sixers’ matchup against the Boston Celtics in the final minute.

His body language didn’t seem to suggest disappointment but rather a desire to get another opportunity.

Michael Carter-Williams grabbed a rebound with 10.7 seconds remaining and dribbled up the court before handing the ball over to Turner. That’s when the swingman drove hard to the lane and put in a floater at the buzzer to give the Sixers a 95-94 win.

“Mike got the rebound and was dribbling up past half court,” Turner said. “I saw him kind of fumble and I said I have to get this ball.”

With the ball in his hands, Turner knew exactly what to do.

“I went to my same move that I have been doing since I was eight years old,” Turner said. “When I saw I lost him and then he bumped me, I thought at worst I am going to get a foul called. But I put the floater up and it felt good and we took it from there.”

Turner’s bucket snapped a three-game losing skid for the Sixers and pushed their record to 15-31. He finished the game with 16 points on 6-for-17 shooting to go with six rebounds and eight assists.

While things were unfolding in the final seconds, Sixers head coach Brett Brown thought about calling a timeout. However, he felt that letting his team operate in the flow of the game would be the best bet.

“It is one of the most difficult decisions because everything seems in be in slow motion,” Brown said. “Do you call a timeout? Don’t you call a timeout? I have learned through the ages that the busted play, the broken play, the random play is probably as good an environment that you are going to get often.”

No matter the decision, Brown knew Turner wanted a chance at redemption for the missed free throw.

“You could see that he wanted the ball down the end,” Brown said of Turner. “He was trying to be physical with some of the smaller players and he did.”

But when Carter-Williams came down with the rebound and brought the ball up the floor, Brown thought his rookie point guard -- playing before a couple hundred family and friends from nearby Hamilton, Mass. -- would take the last shot.

“I was kind of surprised Michael gave it up,” Brown said. “I thought Michael was going to try and win the day, but he gave it up, to his credit. I thought we did an excellent job of passing the ball.”

Carter-Williams had seven assists in his Garden homecoming, but like Turner, had trouble finishing. The rookie shot 4 for 14 for 10 points, including 2 for 5 from the foul line.

Missed free throws were almost the Sixers’ undoing. They missed 11 foul shots, going 14 for 25 from the line, including 4 for 10 during the fourth quarter.

However, in handing the ball off, Carter-Williams put Turner, the team’s best foul shooter, in position to make something happen.

“It was done in the flow of the game,” Carter-Williams said. “If I had come out and was feeling really good and my shot had been falling and I was finishing layups, then maybe I would have thought about taking the shot.”

It all worked out in the end. Turner hit his second buzzer-beater of the season and the Sixers overcame the missed free throws and a sizable mismatch on the boards (Boston outrebounded the Sixers, 59-40) with sound team play.

The Sixers got 26 assists on 37 field goals and committed a season-low 10 turnovers, with just two during the fourth quarter.

“The game had ups and downs,” Carter-Williams said. “I wasn’t finishing the ball and really it wasn’t my day. I just wanted to get the rebound because that is the biggest thing, us getting the rebound and a chance to get a shot.

“And at the end of the day it is all about us getting the win and I was giving us the best chance to win.”

It was an improbable win at that.

“Really when you look at the numbers 14 for 25 (free throws), we got pounded on the boards -- they beasted us in the second half. They had 18 offensive rebounds,” Brown said. “If it weren’t for holding them to 37 percent shooting, really I feel lucky to come out of there with a win, but that was what we did and we will take it.”

The Sixers, now a game ahead of the last-place Celtics in the Atlantic Division, will look to make it two in a row on Friday night when they host the Atlanta Hawks.

Instant Replay: Celtics 107, Sixers 106

Instant Replay: Celtics 107, Sixers 106

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Rewind 24 hours.

The Sixers were walking off the court Friday night after a dismal blowout loss to the Magic that left Brett Brown reflecting on Saturday, “Here in Philadelphia, at home, that’s not good enough.”

The Sixers had lacked fire and grit, especially with Joel Embiid on the floor against a sub-.500 Magic team that had played the night before in Memphis. 

They had a day to turn it around. A playoff contending Celtics squad was coming to town and Embiid wasn’t available because of his back-to-back limitations. The shorthanded Sixers (see below) had a tall task ahead of them. 

The Sixers reacted by jumping out early and kept the Celtics at bay in the first half. Even when the Celtics cut their lead to three midway through the second quarter, the Sixers responded with an 8-0 burst to go up by a game-high 11 points. 

The Celtics exposed the Sixers' defensive void in the paint without Embiid in the third. With the Sixers up 65-58, Isaiah Thomas drew a foul against Jahlil Okafor. That play sparked a 9-0 Celtics run over the next two minutes, in which Thomas scored six of those points (including four at the line). The Celtics took back the lead during that stretch and forced the Sixers to play catchup.

The Sixers cut the Celtics lead to one in the fourth with a three from Dario Saric, who played one of his most aggressive games of his short NBA career. After the Celtics jumped back up by seven, the Sixers kept fighting and tied the game 100 apiece. The Celtics were able to pull away and finished with a one-point win, 107-106, after Ersan Ilyasova drained a three at the buzzer. 

Inside the stats
Thomas exploded for 37 points (11 for 19 from the field, 2 for 3 from three, 13 for 15 from the line), four rebounds, and seven assists.

Saric recorded a double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds off the bench, both tying career-highs. 

Ersan Ilyasova dropped 18 points, including three treys, and six rebounds.

Okafor and Sergio Rodriguez scored 15 apiece, with Rodriguez adding eight assists. 

Avery Bradley dropped 20 points and nine rebounds. 

Stauskas starts in place of Covington
Brown turned to shooting guard Nik Stauskas to slide over to the three spot in place of the injured Robert Covington (see below). 

“Boston’s perimeter defense is as good as it is in the NBA,” Brown explained. “I think you need to have more ball handlers, people who can make a play, on the perimeter … I feel that Nik has that ability to put it to the floor and disrupt that aggressive pressure that the Celtics backcourt can put on you.”

Broken ankles
Saric came up with the Sixers' highlight play of the game when he did this to Jonas Jerebko in the third quarter for an instant highlight reel moment. 

Always a student
Not playing, still learning. Embiid has been praised for being an eager student of the game. During warmups he sat courtside to watch film on a laptop even though he wasn’t suiting up. 

Injury updates
Joel Embiid is not playing in back-to-back games and sat out the back end of this home-home series for rest … Robert Covington sat out with a sprained left knee he suffered on Friday after colliding with T.J. McConnell chasing a ball out of bounds … Jerryd Bayless missed his fourth straight game with left wrist soreness. 

Up next
The Sixers host the Nuggets on Monday night.

Sixers-Celtics 5 things: Slowing down Isaiah Thomas

Sixers-Celtics 5 things: Slowing down Isaiah Thomas

The Sixers (4-15) continue their homestand against the Boston Celtics (11-8) at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night (7:30 p.m./CSN and CSNPhilly.com).

Let's take a closer look at the matchup.

1. A green giant-sized challenge
Just crumple it up and move on.

That's about the only thing the Sixers can do after getting ran out of the gym by the Orlando Magic on Friday. Instead of looking like a team that hadn't played since Monday, the Sixers appeared flat in a 105-88 loss.

Outside of Joel Embiid's first 20-point, 10-rebound game (he had 25 points and 10 boards) and a strong effort from Jahlil Okafor (16 points and 13 rebounds), not much else went right for the Sixers.

Now Embiid will sit the second game of a back-to-back set and Okafor will be thrust into the starting lineup, as the Sixers try to deal with Boston big man Al Horford. 

Horford, the Celtics' prized free-agent acquisition, is coming off his best game so far for his new team. He recorded 26 points, eight rebounds and six blocks in the Celtics' 97-92 win over the Kings on Friday.

2. Little big man
Even with Horford coming off a productive performance, the Sixers' game plan against the Celtics has to focus on slowing down Isaiah Thomas.

The 5-foot-9 guard continues to put up big numbers in the scoring department. Despite his shooting percentages taking a dip this season, Thomas still ranks ninth in the NBA with a career-high 25.7 points per game. 

And even though he is a willing passer (averaging a career-high-tying 6.3 assists), expect Thomas to try and score early and often against the Sixers. After all, the reserve-turned-All-Star has put up 21.5 points per game against the Sixers during his career, his highest mark against any opponent.

3. Dial up the long-distance defense
The Sixers need to be aware of Thomas and just about all of his teammates when they toe that three-point line.

The Celtics rank fifth in the league in three-pointers attempted (31.1), three-pointers made (11.3) and eighth in three-point percentage (36.3) per game.

The C's have four players shooting above 40 percent from beyond the arc, and perhaps a bit surprising, three of them are big men. Jonas Jerebko (46.4 percent), Horford (42.4 percent) and Amir Johnson (40.0 percent) have all been on target from long range.

4. Injuries
Robert Covington (knee) and Jerryd Bayless (wrist) are both questionable. Embiid (rest), Nerlens Noel (knee) and Ben Simmons (foot) are out for the Sixers.

The Celtics have no players listed on the injury report.

5. This and that
• The Sixers have lost five games in a row overall and eight straight to the Celtics.

• The Celtics rank 25th in rebounding with 42.2 a night.

• Dario Saric had two points Friday against the Magic and has failed to reach double digits in scoring five of his last six games.