Coming into Wednesday's game between the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics, Sixers guard Evan Turner had failed to score in double digits for 15 straight contests and had a total of 25 combined points in the previous seven games. In his second start after being reinserted into the starting lineup, Turner improbably responded by playing the best game of his career. The former No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft scored a personal best 26 points on 11-of-19 shooting, grabbed nine rebounds, dished out two assists and held Rajon Rondo to just five points and eight assists, as the Sixers destroyed the Celtics, 103- 71, in Philly.
The game got out of hand quickly for Boston, but for unexpected reasons. Philadelphia takes the lowest percentage of shots at the rim in the NBA this season, but in the first quarter owned the paint on both ends of the floor. Evan Turner missed his first two shot in the paint, but he and his teammates never stopped attacking that area of the Celtics defense. By the end of the opening period, the Sixers claimed more points in the paint (24) than the Cs scored in total (17). Their early 16-point lead continued to grow from there, as Elton Brand chipped in 18 points on 8-for-10 shooting and rookie Nikola Vucevic earned his first career double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Turner pushed the ball in transition, worked to get his own shot, made some highlight reel plays and generally responded to the vote of confidence he received from head coach Doug Collins on Monday. Here is what Collins said after the game, via NBA.com:
Our guys were in real good spirit tonight and I was very happy, and more important, I was really happy for Evan Turner. Evan was great tonight. He was absolutely fabulous. He had the bounce back in his step, he had the pop in his game. He was playing confident basketball. I have told him sometimes as a team you have to go through some valleys to find out what we want to go through.
Boston never led at any point, and that's because they couldn't score. Only Avery Bradley (2-for-3 for 6 points) shot over 50 percent from the field, as the team hit 28-of-80 shots for an impotent 35 percent conversion rate. Jrue Holiday bothered Ray Allen and held the future Hall of Famer to just two points in over 27 minutes. Rajon Rondo must have been in awe of Turner, because he couldn't do much against his counterpart. Five points and eight assists isn't a game line for Rondo at this point, it's supposed to be a mediocre half. With their star point guard on the fritz, Boston got outscored in the paint (44-30), on second chance points (16-6) and even in fast break buckets (26-10). That's the anatomy of a severe blowout loss.
Paul Pierce led the Celtics in scoring with 16 points, but nobody grabbed more than five rebounds and the team combined for an 0-for-8 performance from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Pierce's counterpart, Andre Iguodala, worked his way within reach of a triple-double, but the blowout ended his night at 10 points, eight assists and seven rebounds in 29 minutes.