By Sean Kennedy
Are you watching, other NBA general managers? For the second time in a little over a month, Evan Turner hit the game-winning shot at the buzzer to send the Sixers home happy and tanking advocates groaning into their palms. With the Sixers down one in the closing seconds, Michael Carter-Williams raced the ball up the floor as coach Brett Brown elected not to use a timeout. MCW recognized that Turner had the much smaller Jerryd Bayless guarding him, and gave the ball to the veteran. Turner attacked the basket and went over the Boston guard for the game-winner at the buzzer in a 95-94 Philadelphia victory. Courtesy of @ESPNStatsInfo, Turner now has 2 buzzer-beaters this season, tied with Joe Johnson and Andre Iguodala for the most in the NBA (now there’s three extremely divisive NBA players for you).
It wasn’t a particularly good game for Turner, as the former Buckeye shot just 6-17 and had more field goal attempts than points on the evening. Hopefully, some decision-maker out there overvalues the supposed ‘clutch factor’ of what Turner has done a couple times this season and Sam Hinkie can swoop in for a killer deal at the trade deadline. The bigger reason the Sixers were able to prevail (aside from Rondo sitting and the lineup Boston had on the court) was the play of its two other veterans. Spencer Hawes had a solid game with 20 points and 8 rebounds, hitting 7 of his 14 shots including a career-high-tying 4 three-pointers. Hawes and the rest of the Sixers frontline were pushed around by Jared Sullinger, who finished with a game-high 24 points and 17 rebounds (8 offensive) but we’ve come to expect that.
Thad Young also had a good performance with 16 points and get off the schneid a little bit from downtown, hitting 2 of 5 attempts. He did miss all 4 of his free throw attempts including 2 in the final 2 minutes that could have given the Sixers the lead. Thad is back down to just 69% free-throw shooting after it seemed as though he had made strides to rebound from his horrendous 57% performance from the charity stripe last season. Anyway, although the game might have been a disaster for those out there in favor of tanking, there’s just so much losing this season that it’s nice to see a win in there every once in a while.
- Michael Carter-Williams grew up in Hamilton, Massachusetts, less than an hour from Boston. He had an entire section of friends and family at the Garden sporting Sixers MCW gear in support of him. It originally looked like the rookie might put on a show for them as on the very first play of the game, he went right at Phil Pressey for a lay-in. However, as the game progressed, he appeared to be pressing and forcing some shots he wouldn’t normally take. Carter-Williams finished with just 10 points on 4-14 shooting.
- Spencer Hawes actually won the opening tip against the 6’8″ Brandon Bass. I don’t think basketball reference tracks this stat but I’m fairly confident it’s the first career win on a jump ball for the seven-footer.
- Jeff Green hit a long-distance shot at the end of the first quarter but, like most players, waited until after the buzzer to shoot so as not to mess up his FG%. Hey Jeff, you’re shooting 42% on the season, maybe just let it fly. I’m sure your team could have used those three points.
Facing a Boston team sitting Rondo in favor of Phil Pressey and playing the second night of a back-to-back, it’s not particularly surprising that the Sixers came away with a victory. Still, the Celtics look like they’re going to be neck-and-neck with the Sixers down the stretch for lottery position and losses against them will carry their weight in gold ping pong balls during the summer. Guys like James Anderson and Dewayne Dedmon played well enough, but Philadelphia won on the backs of Hawes and Young, with a Turner game-winner thrown in for good measure. 1/5 tanks.