BOSTON (CBS) -- Evan Turner broke out of a nearly two-month-long shooting slump 11 days ago, with a season-high 30 points against the Orlando Magic. With Isaiah Thomas sidelined, the Celtics desperately needed Turner's shot-creating ability that Friday night, and nothing has changed in the week-and-a-half since.
Boston's offense has remained shorthanded without their top scorer (Thomas) in the fold, but Turner has willingly stepped up to help keep Boston's playoff hopes afloat in the midst of a daunting schedule. Monday night's performance against the Brooklyn Nets capped a terrific two weeks of Turner's crucial contributions.
The former No. 2 overall pick posted his second career triple-double with 19 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds in a convincing 110-91 road win over the Nets. Brad Stevens elected to run Boston's offense with the 6-foot-7 swingman for the majority of the evening. Turner delivered a steady diet of efficient shooting (9-of-13 from the field) and timely dishes as he attacked a disorganized Brooklyn defense.
"He knows how to play," Stevens said after the game. "Every night he fills the box score anyway, maybe not to that level. He was really good with the ball tonight. He was good making decisions off pick-and-rolls. You could tell he was aggressive from the start. He's a good player. We need everyone to play well and he played well tonight."
Turner doubling as both a shot creator and distributor for the Celtics was not a one-night occurrence. Over the past seven games, Turner is leading the green in both points and assists per game, averaging 15.9 points and 7.1 assists during that stretch.
"The offense definitely started clicking," Turner told reporters on Monday night. "I've been able to earn minutes and play and I've been able to play in situations that I've been comfortable in and that's been working well for me."
The emergence of small-ball in recent weeks, with shooters like Jonas Jerebko and Jae Crowder spreading the floor at the four, has helped create additional opportunity for Turner as well.
"We have a lot of spacing," Turner acknowledged. "When you have guys making shots, it opens up the paint and when you have big men like Zeller who can shoot, Kelly Olynyk, and Brandon Bass, it's a scary thing because you have to worry about a lot of people. If you draw two, they're wide open and they're great shooters."
With key wins over teams like Memphis, Indiana and Brooklyn over the past two weeks, the Celtics have fought through adversity and put together a 5-3 stretch without their explosive sixth man in Thomas. With the 26-year-old point guard slated to return to the lineup on Wednesday night against Miami, Boston's offense will be back at full strength for the first time in months.
Perhaps more importantly, Turner is back in an offensive groove for the first time since Thomas joined the roster. With critical head-to-head matchups coming against the Heat, Hornets, and Pacers in the next week, Stevens will have the luxury of rolling with the hot hand each night as the Celtics continue their unexpected postseason push.
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