LOS ANGELES -- The monkey is off their backs.
The Sixers are no longer the lone NBA team with just one road win. They picked up their second victory away from home, beating the Lakers, 111-104, Sunday night at Staples Center (see Instant Replay).
“A cold night in early November, November 1st I believe, in our Nation’s capitol,” answered Evan Turner, when asked if he remembered the last time the Sixers won on the road.
He's right. It was a 109-102 over the Wizards in Washington -- the Sixers' second game of the season. The win improves them to 9-21 overall, and 2-13 on the road.
“I had almost forgot," Turner added, "but we knew we had to just keep focusing.”
Turner was back in the Sixers' lineup after missing Saturday’s game at Phoenix with soreness in his right knee. He showed no signs of the knee bothering him, scoring 22 points, grabbing seven rebounds and handing out six of the team’s 24 assists.
His final field goal was a reverse slam in front of the Lakers bench with four-tenths of a second remaining -- a don’t do when your team has a five-point lead.
“I really thought there was 10 or 15 seconds left, so I didn’t think much of it until I came down,” Turner said. “Then I saw that it was .4 seconds and then I realized I was trippin'.”
“I apologized, and said I made a mistake,” Turner continued. “We are grown men. I shook hands. Nobody had anything to say so I am not going to worry too much about it.”
Instead, Turner and his teammates will focus on the fact that their transition defense was much improved, allowing just eight Lakers fast-break points after giving up 31 to the Suns a night earlier.
“We were getting back, talking, communicating. That relieved a lot of pressure with us trying to guard the three-point line,” said Thaddeus Young, who finished with a team-high 25 points and nine rebounds. “Us communicating was key. We did switches and we were able to get the ball pinned at the sideline and make them throw it away a few passes.”
The Sixers forced 22 turnovers that led to 27 points. They also had 13 steals and that helped fuel their own transition game.
“I am happy for them,” Brett Brown said. “If there is such a thing from time to time as deserving something, I think they deserve it.”
Brown was especially complimentary of his two point guards, Michael Carter-Williams and Tony Wroten, who combined to take 45 shots in Phoenix Saturday. They came back Sunday and attempted just 19. MCW finished 4 of 7 from the field. Wroten, unfortunately, made just two of his 12 attempts.
Still, a marked departure from their 19 of 45 effort the night before.
“It was a complete contradiction and different type of game then we had last night,” Brown said. “They got the veterans involved. I give those two point guards credit. As a team we shared the ball. For them, it is a conflict at times, because they are both really good at attacking the rim.”
“Yesterday I think I took a lot of shots because Evan wasn’t playing,” Carter-Williams said after finishing with 13 points against the Lakers. “I don’t think I took too many bad shots against the Suns, but tonight was a different game. I try to pick and choose a lot and not force anything and get the ball moving. I want everyone to feel comfortable.”
MCW’s formula worked. Young had another big scoring night along with Turner and Spencer Hawes (19 points).
Two former Sixers played well for Los Angeles. Nick Young led all scorers with 26 points and Jodie Meeks had 15. The Lakers, without Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol Sunday night, have now lost five in a row.