Turner glad for new shot in Indiana, but won't diss Philly

Posted: March 17, 2014

EVAN TURNER didn't expect to get a warm welcome from Philadelphia fans last night as he made his return to the Wells Fargo Center as a member of the Indiana Pacers. Turner had only two points, along with four each of rebounds and assists in 21 minutes, during his team's 101-94 win. But while fans were disappointed in Turner's play during his 4 years here because he didn't live up to their expectations after getting taken with the second pick in 2010, Turner's time here was invaluable to him for his career.

After being named the consensus college player of the year at Ohio State, Turner found himself a sub for coach Doug Collins most of his first two seasons. There was bad body language, some inconsistent play and some success, but, through it all, Turner always was looking to help the team win in any way. The frustration of being unable to do that all the time was probably his biggest obstacle while playing here.

Now he is a sub for one of the best teams in the NBA, trading big minutes here for championship dreams there.

"The difference is you're coming in toward the end of a plan," Turner said. "They [Pacers] have kind of built up toward the final stages of a plan of trying to get to a championship. Being here was toward the beginning of that, rebuilding. Both coaches are great coaches.

"The Midwest is a little bit different than the East Coast. It's definitely a blessing. It's definitely a blessing to have played here and go to a great organization like the Indiana Pacers. I have no animosity [toward the 76ers]. I can't say it enough. No animosity or no negativity, or anything. I'm thankful for playing here and having the opportunity to play this year.

"You don't ever accept losing. Losing is too easy to do, and you can kind of accept doing it. I don't ever accept it. All I ever tried to do was prepare and play hard and just stay ready for any opportunity I got. I could have thrown in a towel and not have been prepared and then gotten traded to Indiana and not been ready. Everything happens for a reason."

He is in Indiana with two other former Sixers, center Andrew Bynum and Lavoy Allen. Bynum didn't play last night to rest his sore knees, while Allen, who went with Turner in the trade-deadline-day exchange, tied a season high with 13 points, making all six of his shots.

"I had a soft spot for Evan Turner," Sixers coach Brett Brown said. "You come into this city and the weight of this city was on him from Day 1. And now you're with him and coaching him and I tripped upon somebody that genuinely cared. He was a gym rat; he wanted to get better. There was a side of him that he could let misfortune or multiple losses go and come back to the gym and do what we asked him. He is a hell of a player. For him to know that and to play like that and come out with that kind of confidence, I felt I could help him in that regard."

Though the minutes have dipped since the trade, Turner has impressed his new team in many ways.

"I like everything about Evan Turner for our team," coach Frank Vogel said. "He's really smart. He's a smart human being, first of all, and a smart basketball player. He is very, very quick to pick up our offensive schemes and very, very rarely in the wrong place defensively."

At times perhaps Philadelphia was the wrong place for Turner, but he'll never say so. He says the experience made him better.

"Obviously, you wanted to make the playoffs every year, but other than that, there were no regrets. The good times I had were great, and the tough times made me stronger as a person. With myself and [Andre] Iguodala and Lou Williams and Spencer Hawes, one thing we wanted to do was take what we did in 2012 in the second round and see what we could do the next year."

Game stuff

The Sixers actually played well enough to perhaps beat some NBA teams last night. Unfortunately for them, they were facing the Eastern Conference-best Indiana Pacers, which simply out-talented the Sixers down the stretch for a 101-94 win. It was the 19th consecutive loss for the Sixers, one shy of the team record, and their 14th straight home loss.

The Sixers (15-50) cut the deficit to 87-82 midway through the fourth quarter, but their next five possessions featured three turnovers and two missed layups. After all that, Thaddeus Young's two free throws made it 87-84 with 4 minutes, 58 seconds to go in the final quarter. But Indiana (48-17) scored on its next three possessions and rode that to the win, snapping a three-game road losing streak. If you're looking for a moral victory, the Sixers had lost the previous 10 games by double figures.

"We failed to cut it to a smaller margin just with 50-50 balls or transition opportunities that we end up throwing it away," Brown said. We need every break we can get if we're going to beat a team, especially like that."

Young posted 25 points and a career-high 10 assists, but shot only 10 of 31 from the floor. Byron Mullens had 15 off the bench, while Michael Carter-Williams collected 12 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.

Paul George scored 25 points to lead the Pacers, who also got 18 from David West, 14 from George Hill and 13 each from Lance Stephenson and Lavoy Allen.

New addition

The Sixers gave a 10-day contract to Darius Johnson-Odom yesterday and released guard Lorenzo Brown. Johnson-Odom averaged 22 points and 6.1 rebounds for the Springfield Armor, of the NBA Development League, in 27 games this season. A Marquette product, he played four games for the Lakers last season before being waived.

When Brett Brown spoke of his newest acquisition, a wry smile crossed his face.

"He's a tough and competitive with a pit-bull mentality that I feel, at this stage of our season, will be good for us," Brown said. "I'm happy to give this type of player a chance."


On Twitter: @BobCooney76

Blog: ph.ly/Sixerville

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