No small win for Sixers in New York

Evan Turner draws a foul from Knicks' J.R. Smith as he drives to the basket in the second half.
Evan Turner draws a foul from Knicks' J.R. Smith as he drives to the basket in the second half. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Posted: March 12, 2012

NEW YORK - Perhaps it's time to come up with some sort of phrase for the impact Evan Turner is having on the 76ers. Though no one this season is likely to top the craze that was "Linsanity," aka the rise of New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin from obscurity, Turner is turning into a pleasant storyline for the Sixers.

The team won for the third time in the four games since last year's second overall pick has become a starter, beating Lin's Knicks, 106-94, in a matinee yesterday at Madison Square Garden.

While the Sixers' offense has risen from anemic to somewhat powerful since Turner's implementation into the starting lineup, yesterday's win, the team's third straight, wasn't solely the work of the second-year pro.

Lou Williams was scorching-hot off the bench, going for a game-high 28 points, including 12 in a decisive third quarter in which the Sixers had a 38-24 scoring advantage. His most outrageous shot of the day was a falling-out-of-bounds, deep two-pointer just as the intermission buzzer sounded, giving the Sixers a 51-49 lead. Andre Iguodala not only battled and frustrated superstar Carmelo Anthony at the defensive end, he also scored 19 points, dealt eight assists, grabbed seven rebounds and had four steals.

Also helping in the scoring column, Thaddeus Young (14) and Elton Brand (13), and Jrue Holiday's physical defense on Lin forced the one-time sensation into 5-for-18 shooting, six turnovers and an overall sloppy performance.

And then there was Turner, who played 40-plus minutes for the second straight game, scored 24 points, snared 15 rebounds and made all but five of his 14 shots. Since he has been put into the starting lineup by coach Doug Collins, the team has averaged 101.5 points. That comes on the heels of a drought of 19 games in which the Sixers didn't reach the century mark.

It was the fifth straight loss and sixth in seven for the Knicks (18-23), who were returning home after a four-game road trip.

"I like the Knicks' 41 percent shooting and that we forced 18 turnovers and had 17 fastbreak points and we got to the free-throw line 26 times, that our field- goal percentage was over 50," said Collins, whose team improved to 25-17. "I played a short rotation today and that was by design. We don't play until Wednesday and I thought whatever we had to do, if it means playing guys extra minutes and some guys not, then that's what I was going to do."

That means basically a seven-man rotation, with Young and Williams coming off the bench. Jodie Meeks saw just under 7 minutes and starting center Nikola Vucevic was pretty much ineffective, thus playing only 20 scoreless minutes while grabbing three rebounds.

"We had the ability to play with a small lineup a lot," Collins said. "When [Tyson] Chandler was in the game with Amare [Stoudemire] we played two bigs. When Chandler went out we would play a smaller lineup.

"Lou was brilliant off the bench. The big shot he hit at the end of the half I thought was a momentum shot. Then I thought we were really, really sharp. Division foe, come in here and get a road win is great."

"Lou's shot was big," said Holiday, who finished with eight points and shot just 2-for-14. "I was behind him and it looked like it touched the clouds and came back. It was a big, crazy shot."

While Turner's presence has helped revitalize the offense, Holiday sees other factors, also.

"I think that [All-Star] break really helped us," he said. "I remember at the beginning of the year we were getting 100 all the time. I think that break really helped us to recuperate and get better mentally."

"I think you go through spurts, I think every team goes through spurts this season," Iguodala said. "The Orlando Magic, I think they had a stretch there where they couldn't get over 75, and everybody knows what they're capable of doing. I think with this season, with the schedule, we're just really feeling good about ourselves right now."

One area that has been consistent throughout the season has been the team's defense. Yesterday was no exception. It is mainly triggered by Iguodala, who was Velcro-like on Anthony, forcing him into a quiet 22 points on 5-for-13 shooting.

"I pretty much take every game with the same approach," Iguodala said. "When you go against a player with Carmelo's type of abilities you kind of focus in a little bit more and not let him get certain catches and get him out of his comfort zone. The team did a good job as well. We had a couple of spots where we doubled and took the ball out of his hands, tried to keep him out of his rhythm."

New York was that way much of the afternoon, as Lin continued to throw passes into traffic. And when the Knicks needed a basket from one of their stars, neither Stoudemire (nine points) nor Anthony was able to help.

"We tried to build our defense against him," Collins said of Lin. "Not let him get strung out, run him into a little trapping pocket, try to make him throw back over his right shoulder going left. When they're big, you can get a lot of help. When they go small, you can do some different things."

All of which seemed to hinder Lin's ability to create.

Nothing, though, has seemed to stop Philly's new sensation. Can a catchphrase for Turner be far behind?

"He had 14 defensive rebounds, so when you rebound the ball like that you're in the open court," Collins said. "Plus when you have Lou, Jrue or Dre out there you can throw the ball ahead and we can get early offense. His defensive rebounding is really amazing."

Six shots

Doug Collins decided to start Nikola Vucevic for Tony Battie at center, it was announced just before game time . . . The team will have off today before resuming practice tomorrow. It will travel to Indiana for a Wednesday game before hosting Miami on Friday and playing in Chicago on Saturday.


Contact Bob Cooney at cooneyb@phillynews.com.

 

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