Normally entering an NBA game in progress is like merging onto I-465. You better get up to speed quick or you're going to be in trouble.
When Evan Turner had to unexpectedly enter the fray for the Pacers in the last five minutes of the team's battle with the Miami Heat, it was more akin to merging from the pits onto the track at IMS with 20 laps to go in the Indy 500.
Frank Vogel told Turner, "Welcome to the rivalry."
For the first couple of minutes it appeared Turner would get run over by sensory overload. It is one thing to raise your intensity to match what was going on out there on Wednesday night, but it is another thing entirely to reach that level and still be able to execute.
"The game was already riled up, the atmosphere was crazy in general," Turner said following the game. "My big thing was trying to match that intensity right away so I wouldn't be the weak link out there."
After the Heat reeled of an 8-0 run following Lance Stephenson's ejection which brought Turner into the game, the Pacers finally stopped to surge with a free throw from Roy Hibbert.
Then Turner came up big, scooping up a loose dribble and then methodically finishing the transition opportunity with a layup. After another Heat turnover, Turner spun the game in the Pacers' favor when he put Mario Chalmers in the spin cycle at the free throw line and they burst down the lane for another layup.
What had felt moments later like a game slipping away, suddenly felt like it was going to be the Pacers' night. When David West then made sure it would be the Pacres' night by draining a three-pointer.
This was far from a perfect game for the Pacers, shooting just 37 percent and running into a few offensive dead spots throughout the game that threatened to nullify their intensity and defensive effort which was at a championship level much of the night.
Turner didn't play these types of games in Philly, so the silver lining in Lance's folly of getting tossed, is that E.T. has now been fully immersed in the Pacers/Heat rivalry and shown he can stand up when called on to raise his level of play.
Enjoy the highlights!
Check out the links: