NEW YORK -- Evan Turner loves a challenge.
At Wednesday’s morning shootaround, knowing that Tony Wroten would not be available for a second straight game, coach Brett Brown went to Turner and told him he was needed in more ways than one in Wednesday's game at Madison Square Garden.
“When Wroten comes in, I am usually strictly on a wing, so with Tony hurt we had to fill it out with that,” Turner said of playing three different positions in the Sixers' gutsy 110-106 win over the New York Knicks (see Instant Replay).
“Coach is a confident guy who encourages us.
“He told me that we are not going to play the rookie as a backup, we are going to use you. He said, 'Keep your confidence up, keep your swagger and keep your rhythm.'”
Turner had all three going Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden. He came out of the gate and made 4 of 5 shots in the first quarter for 10 points. He made all three of his three-point attempts and finished strong, scoring 10 fourth-quarter points to help the Sixers erase a six-point deficit.
Turner finished with a career-high 34 points and 11 rebounds.
“I saw a really skilled big guard,” Brown said of Turner, who becomes a restricted free agent this summer. “He was a point guard, a two-guard and a three-guard. He went 3 for 3 from three. We have really put in lots of time where he can add that to his game, where he can get his legs into it and really hold his follow through -- and he did.
“He showed a variety of ways that he can impact the game from rebounding, to a three-point shot, to making tough shots with hands in his face, to guarding Carmelo [Anthony] well. That is what I saw in him.”
The rebounding from Brown’s team was impressive, too. They won the battle on the backboard 54-39 and managed 17 offensive rebounds.
The Sixers are tied for ninth in the NBA in rebounding, but what made the work on the glass so impressive against New York was that the guards were responsible for 39 of their 54 rebounds.
“I can’t speak enough about our guards' rebounding,” Brown said. “That was one of the keys to the game tonight. Rarely will you find a game that it isn’t, but we have big guards who can rebound and then instigate the break. It is a great way to have dribble-outs after they defensive rebound, and they did a great job of that tonight.”
Dribble-outs start the fast break and set a pace at which the Sixers relish playing.
“With a team like that that is not used to running, but likes to come down and play playoff-basketball pace, I think we were wearing them out a little bit,” Turner said after logging a team-high 40 minutes against the Knicks. “We were keeping them on their heels. They were playing catch-up a little bit.”
“We all played well,” Michael Carter-Williams said. “We shared the ball. We were patient and it worked out in the end for us.”
“This team takes you all over the emotional roller coaster this year, and it will the second half of the year,” Brown admitted. “It is the youngest team in the NBA. I believe it is the lowest payroll in the NBA.
“To come into New York City -- and I don’t care what the Knicks' record is -- it is a hell of a moment to come in here, and for these guys to find a way to close it out is big for them. I am proud of them.”