Evan Turner was in the midst of a career year in his fourth season as a pro.
The 76ers were placing the keys — at least it appeared so — to the franchise in Turner’s hands. The 2010 second overall pick averaged over 35 minutes for the second straight season, responding with averages of 17.4 points, six rebounds, 3.7 assists and 26 games with 20 or more points in 54 starts.
Following the trade-deadline move to Indiana, Turner has struggled of late in adjusting to a new role with the Pacers.
Turner played over 40 minutes nine different times with Philadelphia, but he’s played less than 20 minutes in every game since scoring eight in 21 minutes of the victory over Miami.
“Coming from 40 minutes and getting a lot of touches, to having to be efficient with my time, it’s definitely different. We’re going to work together,” Turner said following Indiana’s win over Detroit last week.
Turner scored four points in that victory and is now averaging 2.6 ppg over the team’s last six games.
“I’m just trying to get in where I fit in. I just try to shoot when I’m open. I just try to play hard and that’s pretty much. Whether it’s rebound, play defense, I don’t try to target stats as a success meter,” Turner said.
Some steady contributions from Turner and the rest of what should be one of the best bench unit’s in the league could play a vital role in the Pacers’ playoff success.
“When you plan on going on a long run, you for sure need your bench. A lot of bodies, a lot of capable bodies. Production, giving something the opposing team fear, that’s the biggest thing,” Turner told the Tribune-Star last week.
Indiana has lost five of six, but the win over Detroit included a strong bench performance. Ian Mahinmi tied his season-best with 10 points. Luis Scola had nine points and seven rebounds in just 15 minutes.
Overall, the bench totaled 25 points after posting an average of 16 ppg over the team’s last five.
“That’s for sure huge,” Turner said of the bench performance. “Once we get the opportunity to play, get the rhythm going — past few games the starters got the bulk of minutes — we’re going to be successful.”
Coach Frank Vogel understands the challenge facing the 25-year-old talent.
“I have to credit him for his lack of wanting to try to do it himself. He’s being assertive, when the extra pass is needed, he’s continuing to make the extra pass and trying to create things for his teammates. He really has a pure heart to try to want to fit in and help this basketball team.”
With five games remaining in the regular-season, it’s possible coach Frank Vogel could utilize his bench a little more so key players can have fresh legs going into the playoffs.
Turner had six points and four assists in Indiana’s blowout loss to Atlanta. He was among the players to address the media at the practice facility Tuesday.
“We weren’t really told that. We’re just trying to figure out rotations, get back to playing the right way,” Turner said. “The biggest thing is the communication’s still there, and we’re still trying to work to get it together. We could all be going our separate ways.”
The depth of the Pacers was a strong point going into the season. Adding Turner to the mix has the potential to improve that depth further, even though it’s hard to see as the team continues to bottom out on a repeated basis.
“He’s very important for us. We need him to play well. We need everyone to play well,” Scola said in an upbeat locker room after the Detroit win.
Lance Stephenson said the team is fighting to build momentum.
“We have so many pieces, we can’t let this opportunity get away from us. We’ve got to keep playing Pacer basketball and playing together,” Stephenson said. “We just want to go into the playoffs playing good basketball.”
Indiana heads into Milwaukee trying to leave the horrific Atlanta loss behind it.
“We know we’ve been playing bad,” Scola said. “We know we have some work to do. We believe in ourselves. We’ve just got to go through this phase, get ready for playoffs.”
Evan Turner was in the midst of a career year in his fourth season as a pro.
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