Sixers' Evan Turner struggling with lineup changes

Posted: February 10, 2013

When the 76ers made some changes to the lineup, the coaching staff knew there would be growing pains. Specifically, it knew that Evan Turner would have to make the biggest, short-term adjustments to his game to accommodate the insertion of Nick Young into Jason Richardson's shooting-guard role.

Richardson, who has missed the last eight games, is now lost for the season, succumbing to a torn cartilage in his left knee that will require surgery and up to 12 months of recovery. Young, who has averaged 15.8 points in place of Richardson (10.5 ppg. in 33 games), has fit in nicely starting alongside Jrue Holiday in the Sixers backcourt.

But Turner has struggled lately. Averaging a career-high 13.6 points in his first season as a full-time starter, Turner is scoring just 5.5 points per game since the lineup change. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 draft has not been shooting the ball as often as the team gets used to its new starters - Spencer Hawes is back in the starting lineup again. Considering how he has shot the ball lately, this is not a bad thing: Turner is just 9 for 36 from the field (25 percent) over the last four games.

Turner didn't seem overly concerned with his recent numbers, pointing out that the Sixers (21-27) are 3-1 in the last four games.

"I'm a rhythm player, and lately I haven't been getting my shots in rhythm," Turner said. "But the good thing is that we've won, so it's OK."

Turner is coming off perhaps his worst performance of the season, a 1-for-10 game that saw him score just two points. However, when he last faced Charlotte, Saturday's opponent, Turner had the type of game the Sixers envisioned when they selected him, finishing with 25 points and 10 rebounds in a 104-98 road victory Nov. 30.

That performance capped a three-game stretch that saw Turner shoot 55 percent from the field and average 21.0 points and almost eight rebounds. The Sixers won all three of those games, and that stretch marked the last time the Sixers won consecutive games before their recent three-game streak.

Sixers coach Doug Collins believes that Turner can have similar performances like his last game against Charlotte if he stops being so hard on himself.

"Evan's just got to play; he's got to play," Collins said. "Evan gets too hard on himself. He's got to understand that there is not a perfect game, no perfect player."

Much of that pressure comes from Turner's lofty draft status, something he is aware of.

"I'm judged highly on my shooting," Turner said. "And also people like to bounce back and forth on what I am, a bust or whatever, to keep the conversation going. But all that negativity can get thrown out the window with everything else."

Richardson, who has never missed extensive time in his 12-year career, sought three different opinions from outside doctors before deciding to have the surgery. All of them recommended he have the operation.

"It's pretty tough news to hear," Richardson, 32, said Friday following the 76ers practice at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. "I've been to four different doctors, and they pretty much all said the same thing."

Richardson said he plans to have the surgery done next week in New York by Jonathan Glashow, one of the examining physicians.

Richardson is making $5.8 million this season and is schedule to make $6.2 million next season, the last year on his contract. Richardson has said that he wants to play beyond his current contract.


Contact John N. Mitchell at jmitchell@philly.com, or follow on Twitter @JmitchInquirer.

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