BOSTON — Just over one year ago, Evan Turner hit a game-winning shot on the TD Garden floor as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers. On Wednesday night, he repeated the feat in Celtic green.
Boston trailed the Hawks by one point the game’s closing seconds before Brad Stevens elected to put the ball in Turner’s hands out of a timeout. The fifth-year guard drove into the paint and swished a one-handed floater with just 0.2 seconds remaining on the clock. The basket finished off an 18-point comeback by the Celtics in a 89-88 win over Atlanta. Jared Sullinger led the way for Boston with a double-double (17 points, 15 rebounds) while Turner flirted with triple-double like numbers (12 points, seven rebounds, nine assists) in the gritty victory.
“We wanted to get it into Evan’s hands and then Avery [Bradley] had the option off of a single pindown,” Stevens said of his final playcall. “Evan had the option to drive, but I knew when I told Evan he had the option to drive, he was not probably going to get rid of the ball.”
Turner echoed those remarks in the locker room.
“Yeah, when [Brad] said I could drive it, I was just hoping Avery Bradley wouldn’t be mad at me [for not passing it to him],” Turner said.
Turner’s basket gave the Celtics their first lead of the contest, as Boston overcame a dreadful offensive performance for the better part of 48 minutes. The hosts shot a mere 32.3 percent from the field, bricking open jump shots from all over the floor for most of the first three quarters. Boston only managed to stay in the game thanks to sizable edge in offensive rebounding and second chance points (23-6).
Luckily for the Celtics, the NBA’s best team was off their game as well. Despite an off shooting night of their own (40 percent from the field), Atlanta still led Boston by 14 points with 7:43 remaining in the fourth quarter. From there, the Celtics closed out the game with a 26-11 run in a comeback that featured clutch baskets from Marcus Smart, Sullinger and Avery Bradley down the stretch before Turner finished the job.
The victory pulls the Celtics within 1.5 games of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference as the team enjoys a eight-day respite during the All-Star break.