Ohhh, Evan. Our boy ET has been heavy in the thick of the worst stretch of play of his season, averaging just 13 points a contest on 37% shooting over his last six games, dropping his field goal percentage to below 45% and his PER to below league-average--and that's just his offense, as his defense has been even worse, as Derek Bodner of Liberty Ballers did a fine job detailing the other day.
But just as you started thinking it might be well into 2014 before we get even another break-even performance from Evan Turner, the Extraterrestrial gifted Philadelphia 76ers fans at the WFC last night with one of his best performances as a pro, scoring 29 points on 13-22 shooting, to go with ten boards and five assists. And the biggest of those 13 field goals came as time expired in overtime, as he hit the game-winner to give the Sixers their 121-120 vengeance victory against the Brooklyn Nets, who eviscerated them in New York just four days earlier.
You'll notice that it was a very un-Evan Turner-like game-winning attempt for a number of reasons, not the least of all being that it actually went in. The fact that ET actually took the ball to the basket with seconds to go instead of pulling up for one of his patented (and rarely successful) stepback elbow jumpers is a very encouraging sign that perhaps our volatitle fourth-year wing has not totally thrown in the towl on this season, and might still be able to put in the work to get back to the level he was playing at at season's start, despite his relatively lazy play of recent weeks.
Of course, Evan's return to form might have much to do with the return of their starting point guard, Michael Carter-Williams. MCW had a good-not-great stat line for the night--15 points on 5-13 shooting, with ten assists and three steals--but his presence totally changed the energy of the team from the first minutes of the game, as he got the team back into their ball-pushing, easy-scoring ways, also helping to get Turner a couple good looks for buckets at the basket early that set him on his way to an 8-8 start to the game from the field. It's just a different team with Carter-Williams out there, and a much less difficult-to-watch one, I'd proffer.
And it should also be noted that any worries about the trade rumors (and rumored trade requests) surrounding Thaddeus Young of late certainly did not affect his play last night. Thad went off for 25 points on 11-18 shooting--including 3-3 from downtown (now shooting 39% from deep for the season!)--with six points, four assists and three steals, an all-around performance that reminds us just how valuable Thaddeus has been to this team over the past seven-plus seasons, and how we'd be damn foolish to let him go just for the same of doing so. Way to stiff upper lip it, Thad.
Of course, you could hardly say that all that ails the Sixers was remedied tonight. The defense was still...problematic, as the team gave up 108 points in regulation to a Nets team missing Kevin Garnett and recent Sixer-slayer Joe Johnson. And surprise, surprise, the three-pointer proved the primary bug-a-boo, as the Ballers gave up a combined 15 longballs to Paul Pierce, Alan Anderson and Mirza Teletovic, stretching their record total of games of 15+ three-pointers given up in a season to seven. There will be game film to watch for Brett Brown on this one, for sure.
Nonetheless, a win is a win, and as much as the Sixers are better off losing just about whenever possible at this point, I think the guys needed this to keep the team from completely falling apart. We want the team to lose, but we don't want them to quite be depressing, and a win last night goes a long way towards staving off such total misery. Plus, it was the Ballers' last home game before the holidays and the new year, so it was the least they can do for their few faithful home fans remaining.
Sixers go to Milwaukee tonight to begin a six-game roadie, with all five after tonight coming against the much tougher West. In other words, store up the good vibes now, because it's gonna be a real long winter.