When the fourth quarter rolls around, Evan Turner is the one player the Celtics have grown accustomed to leaning on.
Tuesday’s 97-89 win at New York was no different, with Turner’s all-around play providing a much-needed spark to get back Boston back on a winning streak.
The Celtics (28-22) wasted no time bouncing back from a 119-114 loss at Orlando on Sunday, with Boston now having won five of its last six games and nine of its last 12.
And while there were a number of players who contributed to Tuesday’s victory, the play of Evan Turner – particularly down the stretch – was critical to the victory.
“Evan had it going the whole fourth quarter, whether he scored or made a play for somebody else,” Boston’s Isaiah Thomas told reporters after the win. “That’s what this team is about. It makes my job easier. I can sit in the corner and just chill while he makes the plays. He took over that fourth and we needed that from him. That’s how we got this win tonight.”
Turner finished the game with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds along with four assists and three steals.
Much of his handiwork came in the fourth when he scored six points to go with five rebounds and a pair of assists.
Seeing Turner dish out passes in the fourth is a common occurrence for the Celtics.
Turner came into Tuesday’s game ranked fourth in the NBA in fourth quarter assists.
The only players ahead of him were ex-Celtic Rajon Rondo, Washington’s John Wall and Houston scoring machine James Harden.
“I just try to attack and make the right play,” Turner told reporters after the game. I once again try to be more assertive. I’m confident I can make the right play and my teammates can hit the right shots.”
Besides Turner, here are some of the other Stars from Tuesday’s game, as well as some of the game’s studs and duds too.
The seldom-used big man for Boston came off the bench to tally a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds. To put his night in perspective, Zeller was 8-for-13 from the field on Tuesday night. He appeared in 10 games in January, averaging 1.5 field goals made per game.
It was a pretty typical game for Isaiah Thomas whose dribble penetration and effective pick-and-roll play was instrumental to Boston’s win. He finished with 20 points and eight assists along with five rebounds.
The Boston had a lot of problems with Lopez, particularly in the first half. He had 17 points and 13 rebounds along with three blocked shots.
The shin injury that made him a game-time decision didn’t appear to be an issue most of the night. He once again did a nice job defensively on Carmelo Anthony while tallying 16 points of his own on 6-for-10 shooting to go with five rebounds.
Most of his best play came in the first half when he used his size advantage to score on multiple occasions while being defended by Isaiah Thomas who is several inches shorter. But the Celtics made some nice adjustments in the second half that didn’t allow Afflalo to get into any kind of rhythm. That said, he still had a good game with 18 points and three assists.
Jae Crowder’s defense was certainly a factor in Anthony having a very un-Anthony like game. The perennial all-star finished with 16 points but shot just 4-for-16 from the field.
Losers in six of their last seven games, the Knicks’ struggles have coincided with what appears to be Porzingis hitting the much-talked about rookie wall. He has had problems at both ends of the floor throughout the Knicks’ losing skid with an offensive rating (points scored per 100 possessions) of 97.2 and a defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) of 105.3 during that span. Tuesday's game was more of the same with the 7-3 rookie tallying 10 points on 4-for-11 shooting. Porzingis had a offensive and defensive rating of 89.2 and 98.4, respectively.
Credit Tyler Zeller’s strong play for being one of the main reasons Sullinger saw so little time on Tuesday. But even when he did play, Boston’s leading rebounder was anything but that around the rim. Sullinger had four points on 2-for-6 shooting from the field, along with two rebounds while playing just under 17 minutes.