DURING THE weekend split with the Boston Celtics, in which the 76ers garnered an overtime decision at home on Friday before a butt-kicking at Boston on Saturday, swingman Evan Turner hoisted a total of 42 shots.
Imagine that for a second. Turner, who has appeared to absorb much of coach Doug Collins' ire during their first two seasons together, had the freedom to take that many shots.
Had it not been for his 26th shot, the Sixers very well might have lost Friday's game. Turner's short jumper with 3.9 seconds left in overtime gave the Sixers a 95-94 win. The game-winner happened after he had turned the ball over late in regulation and missed his first four shots in overtime. It also came with the blessings from his coach.
Times have changed for Turner and Collins. The player has done what the coach has asked of him, and the coach has gained the utmost of confidence in the Ohio State product.
"The thing I'm really proud about is Evan took the shot after missing four or five in a row," Collins said. "That's big-time. Evan is an amazing kid. He's always been a guy that needs to feel that everything fits. I really feel good about the way he's letting me coach him. I feel a real connection with Evan and it feels great. I don't know that Evan has trusted a lot of people in his life, but I hope he trusts me."
Turner appears to and, more important, he is trusting himself and his game, which now is starting to closely resemble the one that garnered him consensus player of the year honors his last season in college.
Turner is able to get to where he needs to be to score and is making those shots. He is handling the ball better than ever as a pro, and appears to be playing at a comfort level that he hasn't experienced before.
"It's definitely improved," Turner said of his relationship with Collins. "It's just self-improvement on both ends. Obviously I was a little stubborn. Doug, every now and then, is stubborn a little bit. We've both been working on it. He's been working on his poise and just being more calm. I've been working on being more poised and it's definitely been helping."
It has helped him and the team. The proof came in that 26th shot on Friday.
When the "Kiss Cam" focused on Boston's Chris Wilcox during a timeout in Friday's game, Wilcox decided to extend his middle finger to the camera. That gesture cost him a $25,000 fine, the NBA announced Sunday . . . The Sixers' remaining games this week after Monday's tilt against visiting Detroit, are home against Chicago on Wednesday and at Indiana on Friday.