"The first third of the year, we played every other day," Turner said. "So we really couldn't get stuff worked out. We were still learning each other. We switched the roster a few times.
"Right now, we are kind of reaping the benefits of a tough start."
The Sixers capped their surprisingly good trip Saturday with a statement-making, 101-99 victory over the powerful Portland Trail Blazers at the Moda Center. But no one - not even folks within the franchise - could have envisioned what they just accomplished.
They suffered their 13th straight road loss in Phoenix to begin the trip on Dec. 28. They were 0-5 in games after a victory and had gone 26 games without winning back-to-back contests since they opened the season with triumphs over the Miami Heat, Washington Wizards, and Chicago Bulls.
"I think we paid our dues," Turner said. "I think we are starting to take our turn working our way up the hill. And I think the most important thing is defensive communication.
"I think we all did a great job sticking together, trying to close it out [against Portland], and playing hard."
The Sixers' defense was a joke before the West Coast surge. They've already set the NBA record by giving up 15 or more three-pointers in seven games this season.
The Sixers also surrendered 21 three-pointers in their first games against Portland and the Brooklyn Nets.
The Blazers made 21 of 37 three-pointers in a 139-105 win on Dec. 14 at the Wells Fargo Center. Two nights later, the Nets made 21 of 35 threes in a 130-94 blowout at the Barclays Center.
Things were drastically different in the rematch with the Blazers.
Portland made just 3 of 22 three-pointers (13.6 percent) in the upset loss. The Blazers were held to 36.4 percent shooting from the field and committed 18 turnovers.
Opponents combined to shoot just 38.6 percent from the field - including 25.2 percent on three-pointers - and committed an average of 19.5 turnovers during the Sixers' winning streak.
"We made a couple of adjustments in our pick-and-roll coverage," Spencer Hawes said. "The coaches have been working behind the scenes tirelessly, trying to figure out that three-point thing. On this trip, we finally figured it out."
The next test is Monday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Timberwolves (16-17) posted a come-from-behind, 106-99 victory over the visiting Sixers on Dec. 11. Robbie Hummel sparked a 13-3 fourth-quarter run to lift the Timberwolves to the win.
That was the Sixers' fourth straight loss and eighth in nine games. Rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams was sidelined at the time with a right knee infection.
Carter-Williams was checked out Saturday night for concussion symptoms after he was accidentally hit in the head by teammate Thaddeus Young at the end of the game. The rookie said he would be available to play Monday.
The Sixers say they have become a different team since their first meeting with Minnesota.
"Momentum is a crazy thing," Hawes said. "Once you get it, you can't let go. We've got it right now. So we've got to keep going with that."
Williams to D-League
The Sixers assigned guard Elliot Williams to the Delaware 87ers of the NBA Development League.
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