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Robb: Evan Turner Breaks Out Of Slump At Perfect Time For Celtics

BOSTON (CBS) – Before Friday's game against the Orlando Magic, Brad Stevens came to the defense of a slumping Evan Turner.

Turner, 26, has largely been a forgotten man in recent weeks while the Celtics surged in the standings. While new teammates Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, and Jonas Jerebko are receiving plenty of attention, Turner's struggles have fallen under the radar.

Since the start of February, Turner had shot just 31.7 percent from the field and a paltry 21.4 percent from beyond the arc in 30 minutes per game prior to the Magic matchup. The constant misfires dropped Turner's points per game average to 7.4 over that stretch, but his rebounding (6.0) and assists (6.2) kept the swingman in Brad Stevens' good graces.

"Evan has been very consistent on the other end of the floor, which has been huge for us and given us a lot of versatility defensively," Stevens said before Friday's game. "He's one of those guys that I don't worry a ton about his offensive game, although I think that the biggest thing is he believes the next play is going well.

"And I think 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 gotta be a guy that can play off pick-and-rolls for us, for our actions to work."

Stevens then proceeded to give Turner a bit of a confidence boost with a semi-accurate prediction.

"He's not a guy that is necessarily going to score 30 a night and do most of his damage from behind the arc, but he's a guy that's very capable of scoring in bunches, and he's a guy that is very versatile," Stevens said.

A few hours later Turner proved his head coach underrated his scoring potential by just a bit after scorching the Magic for a season-high 30 points in the C's 94-86 victory. On a night where the rest of the Celtics lineup shot dreadfully from the field, Turner broke out of his funk to go 12-of-20 from the field, including a perfect 6-for-6 during a 14-point fourth quarter.

Turner reflected on his breakout performance and lengthy slump after the game.

"I've been trying to do other things, sometimes the things I do on the court are underrated to a certain extent. A lot of people in the league are one trick ponies and I try to distribute or do the best I can on the defensive board. I think my defensive game has come a long way," Turner said.

"Obviously I've been missing layups and missing shots that I usually always make in my sleep, but it happens. I think the biggest thing where I made certain mistakes, if I miss a few shots, I didn't really keep shooting, I tried to distribute and not look at the rim. Tonight I changed my mentality and it worked. At the same time I'm still going to play an all-around game."

Turner did most of his scoring damage from the midrange, but the aggressiveness of his play was what stuck out. He sought out his shot, something Stevens had been insistent on him doing in recent weeks, despite his shooting woes.

"Brad tells us to be aggressive so I know last game he got pretty upset I wasn't as aggressive," Turner added. "Biggest thing is shrugging off the last shot and obviously keep attacking and take what the defense gives you."

With Isaiah Thomas sidelined for another couple days with a back injury, Boston will continue to need playmakers like Turner to step up if they want to keep up their winning ways. The next test comes Saturday night against Turner's former team, the Indiana Pacers, as the Celtics will attempt to take another step forward in their playoff push.

Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.

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