With each passing week of the season, the look on Evan Turner's face has revealed a growing confidence in his abilities. On Friday against the Boston Celtics, in overtime, it was more pronounced than it has ever been for the 76ers swingman.
Turner's partner in crime, Jrue Holiday, had fouled out less than one minute into overtime, and with 3.9 seconds left in the game and the Sixers trailing the Celtics, 94-93, Turner had already missed all four of his attempts in the extra session.
This, however, did not prevent him from taking another shot - the biggest and most important one. He knocked down the 13-footer, over the outstretched arm of Boston's Courtney Lee, that proved to be the difference in the Sixers' dramatic, 95-94 victory over the Celtics at the Wells Fargo Center.
"I just tried to get to my sweet spot on the court and pull up," Turner said. "I told myself to follow through. I felt like the shots I missed I kind of rushed."
Turner led the Sixers (11-8) with 26 points and pulled down 10 rebounds and now has five double-doubles on the season. Thaddeus Young also notched his fifth double-double of the season, finishing with 17 points and 12 rebounds.
Lavoy Allen, who played well against the Celtics in their playoff series last season as a rookie, finished with 11 rebounds and eight points; Jason Richardson added 13 points; and Spencer Hawes finished with 10 points and six rebounds for the Sixers, who play at Boston again Saturday.
Paul Pierce led Boston (10-9) with 27 points. Rajon Rondo posted a triple-double that included 16 points, 14 assists, and a season-high 10 rebounds. Kevin Garnett, who set up overtime when he sank a 20-footer that tied the score at 89 with 14.4 seconds left in regulation, finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Holiday has been the Sixers' best player this season. And while it pained him to not be on the court in the waning moments of a big game, Holiday feels that Turner, who has scored 20 or more points four times in the Sixers' last seven games, is also becoming a threat that teams must contend with.
"His resumé shows that he's hit some big shots in his career," Holiday said. "Down the stretch he's usually bigger than the guy that's guarding him. Today it was Courtney Lee. He got to his spot and knocked it down."
Not long after Holiday fouled out, Young told Turner that they would have to carry the Sixers down the stretch, which they did. Young made both of his shots in overtime, a short jumper and a tip-in.
"That's exactly what they did; they took over," Holiday said. "Thad came up with two big baskets. And even though he had been in a shooting slump, Evan came back with confidence and hit that shot."