With Sixers down 3 starters, Turner slumping again

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With Sixers down 3 starters, Turner slumping again

Often, an NBA basketball game is a microcosm for the season. There are hot streaks, cold streaks and times when the ball just doesn’t go into the basket for one reason or another.

Lately, Evan Turner is having one of those streaks in which he couldn’t buy a bucket with a week’s pay.

Turner is in the midst of a slump of slumps. He has scored just 20 points in the last five games, including two points in the 88-69 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night. In that one, Turner shot 1 for 10 with four turnovers. On the plus side, Turner grabbed nine rebounds, but he has not made a three-pointer since Jan. 26 and he has not attempted a foul shot in the last two games.

Over the last four games, Turner has attempted just four foul shots while shooting 9 for 36 (25 percent) from the field.

Given that the Sixers are missing three starters -- Thad Young, Jason Richardson and Andrew Bynum -- because of injuries, Turner is picking a bad time to go into a funk. If anything, the Sixers desperately need Turner to produce.

“For him it is the all-around game,” head coach Doug Collins said after Thursday’s practice session at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. “When he is having an all-around game, everything fits in for him. He can’t let some missed shots bother him and sometimes when he is not shooting the ball well, it deflates him a little bit. It frustrates him.”

Certainly, Turner’s inconsistency on offense has been frustrating. During the opening weeks of the season, Collins said he needed to find a way to get Turner, “unlocked.” A TV and movie buff, Collins hoped to emulate the relationship between Will Smith and Matt Damon in The Legend of Bagger Vance with Turner in hopes of getting the third-year player going.

Apparently it worked, because from Nov. 16 to Dec. 18 Turner scored at least 11 points in 17 straight games with five 22-plus scoring games thrown in. But after he twisted his ankle in a blowout loss in Houston on Dec. 19, Turner has been up and down. After scoring 36 points on 17-for-33 shooting in back-to-back games, Turner followed it up with a season-low one point in a victory in Memphis on Dec. 26.

Turner’s latest skid follows a stretch in which he scored at least 20 points in three straight games, pouring in 70 points on 28-for-51 shooting, while adding 15 rebounds and 17 assists over that span. In the Jan. 28 game against Memphis, Turner scored a season-high 27 points, with 14 of them coming during the pivotal third quarter.

Now it seems as if he hasn’t put together a string of baskets since.

According to Collins, Turner takes the missed shots hard. Often, failure in a game leaks into other areas, though Turner has been pretty solid on the boards.

Still, with the team’s injuries and the pressure on all-star Jrue Holiday to carry the club, Turner’s contributions are needed more than ever. It might be up to Collins to figure out a way to get Turner going.

“I don’t know,” Collins said. “He has the ball and he’s pushing it up the floor. When Jrue is off the floor, [Turner] has it in his hands. We run an offense that is equal opportunity. It’s not like we focus on one guy. We don’t have a team with great speed and quickness and so our guys do a lot of standing. You have to cut and you have to move and our guys are used to having the ball in their hands. You have to learn to move without the ball -- you have to make a conscious effort at it. Most of our guys are used to having the ball and then doing something with it. We don’t have guys who are used to running off screens.

“Evan has to keep battling. He has to get the ball in the open floor and he has to hit that mid-range shot and get himself to the free throw line and be active. But I’m trying my best.”

Whether it can translate into Turner’s best remains to be seen. With one year and $6.7 million remaining on his rookie contract, Turner doesn’t have a whole lot of time to prove he can be consistent.

Instant Replay: Sixers 106, Nets 101

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Instant Replay: Sixers 106, Nets 101

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK -- Tiago Splitter made his season debut in the Sixers' 106-101 win over the Nets at Barclays Center on Tuesday.

Splitter, who had not played since Jan. 31, 2016, scored two points with three rebounds in seven minutes off the bench. The veteran center underwent season-ending hip surgery last year and most recently had been dealing with calf issues.

The Sixers had to fend off Nets big man Brook Lopez to get the victory. Lopez led all players with 26 points, nine rebounds and six assists. The Sixers were propelled by Robert Covington (21 points, 13 rebounds) and Dario Saric (23 points, seven rebounds).

The Sixers (28-46) wrapped up their five-game road trip 2-3. The Nets (16-58) had been 5-5 in their previous 10 games, including a 15-point win over the Hawks two days earlier.

Down the stretch
The Sixers led 102-101 with a minute to play. T.J. McConnell drew a foul on Jeremy Lin and made both free throws to bring the Sixers' advantage to three points. Covington grabbed the rebound off a Lopez three-point attempt, and Saric missed a trey on the next possession. The Sixers retained possession with 8.4 seconds to go. Isaiah Whitehead fouled Richaun Holmes. He made both to give the Sixers a 106-101 edge.

Inside the box score
• Lopez scored 10 points in the first quarter and had 17 by halftime.

• Saric didn't waste any time bouncing back from Sunday's struggles. He scored nine points in the first quarter.

• Covington recorded his 12th double-double of the season.

• McConnell dished double-digit assists (10) for the 11th time this season.

• Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot had 17 points (he went 4 for 10 from three) and nine rebounds.

Rodriguez the latest injury
Sergio Rodriguez will miss a week with a strained left hamstring. He suffered the injury during Sunday's game against the Pacers. Rodriguez had a precautionary MRI Tuesday morning.

"It's a little strain," he said. "They say it's going to be about a week, then they'll see how it goes afterward. I feel good. It's a mess because there's no pain at all."

Jahlil Okafor (right knee soreness) missed his third straight game. Gerald Henderson (left hip soreness) also sat out. Jerryd Bayless and Ben Simmons were with the team.

Sixers fans on the road
A group of Sixers fans were loud and proud in Brooklyn. Their chants included "Ti-a-go" at the start of the game, "M-V-P" when Saric was at the line and, not to be forgotten, "trust the process" during the second half.

Pennsylvania connections
Villanova alum Randy Foye started for the Nets.

In the second half, a courtside fan yelled, "Chester jumps higher!" when Chester, Pa. native Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was taking a jump ball against Holmes.

Up next
The Sixers will return home (briefly) to host the Hawks Wednesday night. Then it's back on the road to play the Cavaliers on Friday in Cleveland.

Sixers-Nets 5 things: On the road vs. a surprisingly hot 16-win team

Sixers-Nets 5 things: On the road vs. a surprisingly hot 16-win team

The Sixers (27-46) close out their five-game road trip against the Brooklyn Nets (16-57) on Tuesday night at the Barclays Center (7:30 p.m./CSN, CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports app).

Let's take a closer look at the matchup:

1. End of the road
This road trip has been a mixed bag of performances for the Sixers.

It started with heartbreak as they blew a lead in the second half of an overtime loss to the Orlando Magic. Then the Sixers were physically dominated in a blowout loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder before rebounding with a double-digit win over the Chicago Bulls. Their most recent game resulted in a cold-shooting defeat at the hands of the Indiana Pacers.

The Sixers cap off the road swing against a surprisingly hot Nets squad. Despite still having the NBA's worst record by far, Brooklyn has won three of its last four games. That includes back-to-back victories last week for the first time all season when the Nets beat the Detroit Pistons and Phoenix Suns.

2. Budding duo
The Nets have enjoyed this late-season resurgence thanks mostly to the duo of Jeremy Lin and Brook Lopez.

While Lopez has been his steady self all season, Lin has been hampered by a hamstring injury that limited him to just 28 games. Since he returned at the end of February, however, the Nets are 7-10.

The duo's capability was on full display in the Nets' most recent game, a 107-92 road win over the Atlanta Hawks. Lopez and Lin combined for 42 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists in the rout.

3. Saric's response
The Sixers have come to expect solid contributions from Dario Saric on a nightly basis, but that didn't materialize in Sunday's loss to the Pacers.

Saric struggled with just nine points on 3 of 15 shooting. The rookie did add 10 rebounds, but his streak of double-digit scoring games came to a halt at 22.

The Sixers will be expecting Saric to play more like the guy who has averaged 19.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists since the All-Star break on Tuesday night.

4. Injuries
Sergio Rodriguez (hamstring) is questionable. Jahlil Okafor (knee), Gerald Henderson (hip), Joel Embiid (knee), Ben Simmons (foot) and Jerryd Bayless (wrist) are out for the Sixers.

Sean Kilpatrick (hamstring) is a game-time decision. Joe Harris (shoulder) is out for the Nets.

5. This and that
• The Sixers have won two straight and four of the last five against the Nets.

• Lin has averaged 16.5 points during his career vs. the Sixers -- his highest mark against any NBA team. That's in addition to 5.4 assists and 3.5 rebounds.

• Richaun Holmes is averaging 13.1 points on 60.5 percent shooting and 6.8 rebounds in March.