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.