Hot-handed Turner ends cool streak

BOSTON -- Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens asked the team's video crew on Friday afternoon to cut up 15 clips of Evan Turner being aggressive towards the basket. The plan was to show the clips to slumping Turner on the team's flight to Indianapolis after Friday's game.

Stevens scrapped movie night after Turner snapped out of his offensive funk.

Turner erupted for 30 points on 12-of-20 shooting, this after missing his first five shots during Friday's game. He added five rebounds, four assists, and two steals while helping Boston rally for a 95-88 triumph over the Orlando Magic at TD Garden.

"I had 15 clips made up today by our video guys of him attacking and going downhill and looking like an aggressive scorer that I was going to show him on the plane tonight," said Stevens. "And I'm not going to show him, because I think he figured it out.

"Hey, especially with Isaiah [Thomas] out [with a bruised lower back], we need him to be aggressive. [Turner] did a good job; he got going. I didn't think we'd find a hot hand, it didn't look like our night, but we found one and he carried us."

Turner's been woeful shooting the ball lately. Since February 1, he's shot 34.8 percent from the floor overall and 22.6 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. His stat line has been fairly adequate in that span -- 8.6 points, 6.1 assists, 5.9 rebounds, 1.1 steals over 30.3 minutes per game -- but with Thomas absent, the team needed someone else to step up and carry the offense, particularly in crunch time.

Enter Turner, who has never shied from a leading role late in games. The Magic turned the ball over while up 1 with under three minutes to play and Boston broke out the other way. Trailing the play, Turner got the ball at the top of the key, went dangerously behind his back to shake Elfrid Payton then managed to collect the ball while drawing contact from Victor Oladipo, and forced up a little floater in the paint that splashed through. With the free throw, Boston had its first lead since the first half.

Turner made all six shots he took in the fourth quarter while scoring 16 fourth-quarter points. He was plus-14 in eight minutes of floor time in the frame that Boston outscored the visiting Magic 29-16.

Before Friday's game, Stevens had noted that, "[Turner is] not a guy that is necessarily going to score 30 per night." Then that's exactly what he did.

Informed of the coincidence, Stevens quipped, "Maybe he read my quote; maybe that was all on purpose."

Stevens noted before the game how Turner has been much better than advertised on the defensive end, minimizing his recent offensive struggles. According to the league's player-tracking data, opponents shoot 2 percent below their season average when guarded by Turner (including 3.5 percent less on 3-point shots and 1.7 percent less on everything beyond 15 feet).

"Evan has been very consistent on the [defensive] end of the floor, which has been huge for us and given us a lot of versatility defensively," said Stevens. "He’s one of those guys that I don’t worry a ton about his offensive game, though I think that, the biggest thing is that he believes the next play is going well. That’s something that we all have to encourage him and be there to remind him how important he is for us offensively especially with Isaiah out. He’s gotta score for us to be successful. And he’s got to be a guy that can play off pick-and-rolls for us for our actions to work."

Stevens carried Boston on a night it didn't have anyone else to really lean on. Kelly Olynyk provided a boost off the bench (13 points, 5-of-8 shooting) and Phil Pressey was a rim-attacking spark plug (10 points, 10 assists). But it was Turner who couldn't miss when the rest of the team couldn't make.

"One more bad night and I was going to get my arm checked out -- and my wrist," quipped Turner.

While his shot has been off, Turner has remained a key contributor. During Wednesday's win over the Memphis Grizzlies, Turner threw the inbounds lob to Marcus Smart that helped Boston find a way to win against one of the West's best.

As Stevens noted, "[Turner's versatility] has been huge. I don’t think his presence on this team this year can be [overstated]. He’s made big plays late in games, he’s made big plays late in shot clock situations, he got the two assists [on Wednesday] night that kinda led us. ... He’s a guy that’s very capable of scoring in bunches and a guy that is very versatile.

"We talked about it before the season, a lot of guys, for whatever reason, go through a tough time and people forget about all the great things they do. You just try to figure out what your guys do well and you try to help them try to remember why they are here and why they are this good."


Thomas, who missed his second consecutive game due to a bruised lower back on Friday, will not travel with the team to Indiana for Saturday's game against the Pacers. The team remains hopeful he might be able to return to action for Monday's visit from the Philadelphia 76ers.

"He's not going to travel with us," said Stevens. "I’d say, again, I think the day that he’s been shooting for is Monday, but all he did [Friday] was jog a little bit on the treadmill. He’s still very sore."

Thomas suffered a deep bruise to his back and elbow while getting fouled on a strong drive to the hoop against the Miami Heat on Monday night. He said Thursday that he's "been very uncomfortable the last few days."


Pressey played 27 crucial minutes for Boston on Friday night. And that alone was no small feat.

Before Thomas was injured, Pressey had logged healthy DNPs in eight of Boston's previous 10 games. In fact, in Boston's 11 games for the month of February, Pressey played a total of 17 minutes in four appearances. Pressey even went to Maine for the first D-League appearance of his career in early February.

He patiently waited his opportunity.

After playing 1,132 minutes in 70 appearances during his rookie campaign -- aided by Boston's lack of point guard depth, especially while Rajon Rondo worked his way back from ACL surgery -- Pressey had played only 400 minutes over 37 appearances this season.

But he stayed ready and came up with a big double-double against Orlando.

“It feels good because I know I’ve been putting in the work," said Pressey, who was 4-of-5 shooting and super aggressive going at the basket. "It kind of stings sometimes when you don’t play and you’ve been putting in the work as hard as you are. Coach has been telling me to stay ready. Anytime during the season your name is going to be called and when your name is called you have to be ready to go."