Sixers rookie Turner emerging in Iguodala's absence

Sixers rookie Evan Turner vies with Golden State's Monta Ellis on Monday. In the seven games Andre Iguodala has missed, Turner is averaging just over 13 points per game.
Sixers rookie Evan Turner vies with Golden State's Monta Ellis on Monday. In the seven games Andre Iguodala has missed, Turner is averaging just over 13 points per game.
Posted: December 31, 2010

LOS ANGELES - On Wednesday night against the Phoenix Suns, we saw something previously unseen.

76ers rookie Evan Turner, smiling.

Through the first 30 games of the season, Turner has looked like the new kid at recess: He's seemed uneasy on the court, to the point of deference to everyone around him.

You can thank, in some part, the nonexistent defense of the Suns, but on Wednesday night Turner looked every bit like the No. 2 pick in the 2010 NBA draft.

In 29 minutes, 32 seconds of playing time, Turner scored 23 points on 9-for-12 shooting, including 1 for 1 from beyond the arc; was 4 for 4 from the free-throw line; and had five rebounds.

He was talking a little trash, too, and he was noticeably happy.

"He had a swag," said point guard Jrue Holiday. "His swag was coming back."

Turner's performance, and Wednesday's 123-110 win over Phoenix, came without swingman Andre Iguodala, who missed his second consecutive game with right Achilles tendinitis.

On Thursday, the Sixers practiced at the Los Angeles Clippers' practice facility and will play at the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night; Iguodala, who did not practice, is listed as day-to-day and will be a game-time decision.

Without Iguodala this season, Turner's production has been nearly tripled: In the seven games Iguodala has missed because of injury, Turner is averaging just over 13 points per game. With Iguodala in the lineup, Turner is averaging fewer than five points per game.

No performance has been more impressive than Wednesday night's.

"I was just looking for my own shot a little bit and trying to attack," Turner explained after the game. "Sometimes I come into the game and second-guess on shots."

Sixers coach Doug Collins called Turner "fabulous."

"I told him I was so proud of him," Collins said. "He was aggressive and assertive all night. He never ran away from a shot."

Because of Phoenix's barely-there defense, Turner had plenty of open shots. That will almost certainly not be the case against the Lakers.

"I guess the most disappointing thing is that - as I said to the guys - we spent so much time working on our defense and it doesn't seem to be getting any better," said Suns coach Alvin Gentry, who just added three new players to his roster after a trade with the Orlando Magic.

On Friday, it will be interesting to see if Turner has found his game, or if the Suns found it for him.

The road swing

Friday's game against the Lakers will be the penultimate game of this 15-day road trip, which concludes at the New Orleans Hornets on Jan. 3.


Contact staff writer Kate Fagan at 856-779-3844 or kfagan@phillynews.com.

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